A life-sized bronze statue of a small child in a hoodie doing a handstand near the entrance to a building.
A life-sized bronze statue of a small child in a hoodie standing below a plaque on a building. A person in a suit walks past.
Close view of a life-sized bronze statue of a small child in a hoodie doing a handstand. Her pigtails are falling out of her hood. People walk past on the footpath nearby.

Classically influenced bronze sculptures of 2 children unsettle expectations.

Artist: Caroline Rothwell
Curator: Adam Porter, Vi Girgis

Artwork description

Caroline Rothwell’s Youngsters in Barrack Street plays on the monumentalism of bronze sculpture in urban spaces, as well as preconceptions about identity.

The 2 figures that comprise Youngsters stand within the trajectory of monumental bronze sculpture. The drapery, the shoes and the contrapposto of one figure, are all influenced by art history from ancient classical sculpture to Rodin. Yet the forms, the baggy pants, hoodies, Dolce & Gabbana shoes, handstand by one of the figures and the stance of the other, are contemporary.

The figures unsettle expectations and subvert stereotypes. They represent children – one standing, the other hand-standing. They are purposefully diminutive; vulnerable, yet powerful.

Upon closer inspection, the standing child has plaited hair, further undermining social expectations. The interiors of the hoods and clothes are coated with casts of quartz and coal, making a subtle comment on Australia’s mineral economy.

“These Youngsters have uncanny, yet acceptable, presence in an urban environment. Passersby may think they see a familiar scene in a familiar bronze sculpture, but the stasis, scale and the detail rupture such familiarity, creating a re-engagement with the objects and their surroundings.”

– Vi Girgis and Adam Porter, curators


Caroline Rothwell lives and works in Sydney. She works in two and three dimensions, often using unique fabrication methods. Youngsters are a continuum of the themes Rothwell was exploring in her work at the time, with the surreal and fictitious encroaching on the realistic and scientific.


Youngsters was first shown as part of the Laneways temporary art program that ran from October 2012 to January 2013. This popular work was subsequently acquired into the City Art collection.

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