A huge and stunning new Phantom sculpture has been unveiled in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
The Phantom totem stands on the escarpment in the Amphitheatre Garden on the south side at the Leuralla NSW Toy and Railway Museum in Leura. From this vantage point, the impressive 5 metre tall Phantom surveys the vast valley below, looking across to Mount Solitary, not far from the famous Three Sisters.
The totem has been a long time coming, first envisaged many years ago by Peter Kingston, artist and co-curator of the celebrated Phantom Art Show. The design is instantly familiar as a Kingston work, and of course is based on one of his creations. Peter has made many Phantom totems and marquettes on a small scale. Some of these traveled with the Art Show, while another is on display at the Museum and was used as the reference all along.
The immense sculpture was actually built by Russell Hunt, in his own words "the maintenance guy" at the Museum. The build started about a year ago, but had to be squeezed in around general property maintenance.
Leuralla's owner Clive Evatt financed the project as a complimentary piece to the 5m Boofhead and Olive Oyl statues that were installed at the site over 10 years ago. The Phantom is, however, placed much closer to the escarpment. "At 5 metres tall and in a hi-wind area we had to create a substantial frame to anchor him to the escarpment. A fully welded steel frame sunk into a slab of concrete 1.5 metres deep and weighing 2 Tonnes should do the job!" says Russell.
At Peter's insistance the Phantom Totem was made using Lee Falk's original colour scheme of grey - "The Grey Ghost". While Russell did the complete build - groundwork, frame, cut-out of the shape and and majority of the paintwork - Peter himself spent over an hour touching up the face and applying other finishing touches.
Russell tells us, "It was to be ready to be erected in August but had to be put on hold as the Amphitheatre site was being used in a TV show The Bachelorette and we wanted it to be kept a secret until finished." [Coincidentally, one of the bachelors in that season of the reality show was Apollo, who wore a very distinctive Skull ring...]
It will be interesting to hear what Leura locals make of the huge Phantom looking out over their valley, but as Russell says, "as there are two other totems on the site most are used to this and hopefully see it as an Art installation."
Interestingly, Russell also tells us that "Devil will be a project over the coming winter when the work schedule at Leuralla is less hectic" so a fourth totem is on certainly the cards.
Word of the installation must have spread to the Deep Woods, as the Phantom himself attended the grand unveiling, seen in the photo below with Leuralla owner Clive Evatt.
Both Peter and Russell are confident that the Totem will be around for a very long time, with perhaps bushfires the only real risk to the structure.
To see the Phantom Totem and enjoy the rest of the scenic Blue Mountains, it's just a 90 minute drive from Sydney CBD. You may not have Clive's connections and a Phantom chauffeur, but it's still just down the road!
Set the GPS for:
Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum
36 Olympian Parade, Leura, NSW, 2780.