Renowned British artist Wolfgang Buttress has created a large, stainless steel sculpture for the new science complex at Australian National University (ANU) in Acton. Unveiled this past May, UNA, which means “oneness” (and which is also ANU spelled backward), is meant to be a small-scale representation of the universe—quite literally.
Buttress worked with ANU astronomer Daniel Bayliss to create 9,100 perforations in the orb that all accurately represent stars visible to the naked eye. Illuminated from the inside, the stars are visible on both an inner sphere (if one looks through the perforations in the outer sphere) and on the outer sphere, where the star formations shine on the reflective surface.
By taking the skills and disciplines taught in the university’s science complex and inscribing them to the sculpture, Buttress allows the work to act as a graceful form of public signage, announcing the function and purpose of the building. At the same time, the subject matter of the work evokes something more timeless—the greater universe, the bigger picture, the sublime—encouraging passersby to consider both their immediate destination and their broader place in the cosmos.