Blaze is one of two sculptures in the UTS Art Collection by Ken Unsworth which were originally commissioned for William Balmain Teachers College, Lindfield – the former Ku-ring-gai campus of the University of Technology Sydney. Unsworth makes a large number of drawings and maquettes for sculptures and installations which he ironically calls his 'never-mades'. Interlock and Blaze, his second collection work, are therefore unique examples of the artist’s early work, as the only 'never-mades' to be realised at full-scale.
Depicted as a bright red streamer of painted aluminium, Blaze was inspired by gestural marks the artists noticed on trees to mark a trail or boundary. Unsworth was awarded the Captain Cook Bicentenary Sculpture Competition Award in 1970 for Blaze. Following his success in this competition, and the commission of the two sculptures, Unsworth was awarded an Australian-American Education Foundation Grant and travelled to New York before returning to teach at the Sydney Teachers’ College in 1972. Upon his return to Sydney, Unsworth worked as a teacher and expanded his practice to include performances, videos and the suspended and stone sculptures for which he became known in the late 1970s.
[Unsworth] has had a profound influence on successive generations of emerging artists both as a teacher and as a powerful role model of the artist in Australian society; a creative and utterly committed figure who demonstrates compassion, a political conscience and a dark sense of humour about the state of our society.
– University of Sydney Honorary Doctorate Award, https://sydney.edu.au/arms/archives/history/HonUnsworth.shtml
Ken Unsworth was born in Melbourne in 1931. He studied at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Teachers College, and the National Art School, Sydney. He has held several teaching positions, including Lecturer in Sculpture, Sydney College of Advanced Education.
Unsworth has had numerous solo exhibitions, in Australia and overseas, including a major survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1998. His works have been included in the Mildura Sculpture Triennial, 1973 and 1978; the Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne, 1981,1984 and 1993; Australian Perspecta, Sydney, 1981, 1985, 1987 and 1988; and the Biennale of Sydney,1976, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1990 and 2000. He has also participated in major international exhibitions including the Paris Biennale, 1985; Magiciens de la Terre, Paris, 1989; and the Biennale of Istanbul, Turkey, 1995.
In 1978 Unsworth represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Bi-centenary Sculpture Competition Award in 1970 and the DAAD Scholarship, Berlin, in 1987. In 1989 he was awarded an Australian Creative Fellowship and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to sculpture. Ken Unsworth lives in Sydney.