Illawarra 'wingman', sculptor Bert Flugelman dies

The artist who made the soaring Mt Keira steel sculpture commemorating early experiments with flight in the Illawarra, Bert Flugelman, has died.

He was 90 and died surrounded by friends and family at his home at Bowral.

Flugelman was born in Austria and came to Australia as a teenager.

He worked at the South Australian School of Art in the 1970s and 80s, before moving to the University of Wollongong in 1984.

He was a senior lecturer and fellow at the Faculty of Creative Arts.

In 1995 he received an honorary doctorate and two years later was made Emeritus Professor.

His famous stainless steel sculpture at the foot of Mount Keira, Winged Figure, is placed on the mountain as a homage to flight in the region.

Made in Port Kembla at the then BHP steelworks, the sculpture was taken to its site by helicopter in 1988, briefly suspended above the city before being dropped into place.

A portrait of Bert Flugelman by his close friend Guy Warren, Flugelman with Wingman, won the Archibald Prize in 1985.

Other Flugelman art works on display in Wollongong include the stainless steel Spiral and Wave outside Wollongong City Gallery as well as Gateway to Mount Keira - a curvy stainless steel structure sometimes affectionately nicknamed the toaster element or the devil’s bike rack by University of Wollongong students who walk under it one the way to class.

He is well-known for other sculptures including Cones in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery in Canberra, the silver balls - called The Spheres - displayed in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall and Pyramid Tower in Sydney, known by many as the silver shish kebab.

Bert Flugelman with one his works, Elaborate Arch, in his Burradoo studio in 2008. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

Bert Flugelman with one his works, Elaborate Arch, in his Burradoo studio in 2008. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

Winged Figure - Lawrence Hargrave Memorial was designed to celebrate the Bicentenary of colonial settlement in 1988. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Winged Figure - Lawrence Hargrave Memorial was designed to celebrate the Bicentenary of colonial settlement in 1988. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Spiral and Wave outside Wollongong City Gallery. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Spiral and Wave outside Wollongong City Gallery. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Gateway to Mt Keira at the University of Wollongong. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Gateway to Mt Keira at the University of Wollongong. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN