Meeting Apollo at Hyde Park

When we set out for an evening stroll through the park, I had no idea that I would meet Apollo. It was a cool spring evening and as we crossed the road, there he was lithe, beautiful bathed in the evening glow by the setting sun.

Apollo statue at Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney. 30 September, 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Apollo, stood on a central column holding out his right arm and with a lyre in his left hand. The sprinkling jets of water cascading round him cast a mysterious aura around him. On the three plinths radiating from the central column there were figures representing Diana, the goddess of purity; a group representing the good things of the earth; Theseus slaying a Minotaur, representing the sacrifice for the good of humanity.”

I was at the Archibald Fountain, in Hyde Park, in central Sydney, and is named after J.F. Archibald, owner and editor of The Bulletin magazine, who bequeathed funds to have it built. Archibald loved French culture and wanted to commemorate the association of Australia and France in World War I.  He had specified that it must be designed by a French artist and the person who was chosen was François-Léon Sicard.

At Apollo’s feet the star of day is indicated by a semicircle, of which the rays spread out in jets of light (the rising sun). The horses’ heads represent the horses of Apollo’s chariot. Out of their nostrils the water will fall into the first basin, to fall from there into the second, and run away into the large basin,” Sicard had said talking about his work.

Apollo represents the Arts (Beauty and Light) and holds out his right arm as a sign of protection, and spreads his benefits over all Nature, whilst he holds the Lyre in his left hand. Apollo is the warmth which vivifies, giving life to all Nature. At the touch of his rays, men awake, trees and fields become green, the animals go out into the fields, and men go to work at dawn. The ancient Pliny adored the sun, symbol of Life. It is on this account that I wished this figure to be the chief one in the memorial.”