Better streets and spaces

Landmark fountain’s new lease of life

The Archibald Memorial Fountain in Sydney’s Hyde Park is back in action, following an extensive upgrade.

Image: City of Sydney / Chris Southwood
Image: City of Sydney / Chris Southwood

Major improvements to the 90-year-old fountain include structural, hydraulic, electrical and mechanical work.

The City of Sydney also introduced water-saving measures to minimise water loss and prevent damage to underground pipes and pumps.

The state heritage-listed fountain is a war memorial that commemorates the alliance forged by Australia and France during World War 1.

Created by French sculptor Francois Sicard, the fountain draws on ancient Greek themes and is an important example of Art Deco sculpture in Sydney. The fountain was a gift to the citizens of Sydney from J F Archibald, founding editor of the Bulletin.

Image: City of Sydney / Chris Southwood
Image: City of Sydney / Chris Southwood

“The Archibald Fountain is one of Sydney’s most photographed landmarks, and is a nationally significant sculpture,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Families, friends and visitors enjoy meeting at the Archibald Fountain under the shade of tree canopy in Hyde Park, as a quiet respite from the city.

While the fountain was commissioned to honour an association forged through war, the sculptor made peace the theme of this work, a message that remains as poignant today as it was a century ago.

“The new public art we create in Sydney is essential and exciting, like the stunning sculpture bara near the Opera House, but it’s also important we restore historical pieces so future generations can enjoy the city’s many layers of history.”

Image: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney
Image: Chris Southwood / City of Sydney

The hexagonal fountain is around 18m in diameter. A bronze Apollo stands in the centre, with mythical figures Diana, Pan and the Minotaur depicted in the work. A large arch of spray represents the rising sun, while water also spouts from horses’ heads. Tortoises and dolphins direct jets of water toward the centre.

A lighting layout for the fountain by Robert Woodward from the 1960s was uncovered during conservation work and has been implemented by the City of Sydney.

The fountain is part of the City of Sydney’s public art and heritage collection. Find out more about the Archibald Memorial Fountain.

Published 10 January 2023