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Dreamers Gate, Church St, Collector, NSW, Australia

Photographs View Photo Database Record
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Indicative Place
Place ID 102138
Place File No 1/08/296/0013
Nominator's Statement of Significance
The monumental sculpture, Dreamer's Gate, is an essential part of the Collector pastoral landscape. The work provides a narrative document of the history of Australian land-use practices told through the story of the life and death of one man.The work acts as both a frame of and as part of the landscape intrinsically tied to its location. It is a unique world view rising up out of the land and inseparable from that place. Dreamers Gate is unique in the process used in its design and the method and materials adapted from outside the art realm. It is not art for arts sake but art of passion and emotion and available for all.

It also is -
.the story of the past and present use of the land. In the future as the land is revitalised it will remind us of what we had done in the past.
.a monument to a tradition of land-use practice and a view of the world by one man and is not disguised to be any more than this.
.a relationship between two manmade vistas, the monument and the pastoral landscape.

The sculpture shows an important stage in the development of an artist and is at this time his most influential work.
Official Values Not Available
'Dreamers Gate' is located at lot 2 section 4, Church Street, Collector on a six acre property purchased by the artist Tony Phantastes in 1992 in order to develop a sculpture studio and open air gallery. The memorial is 7 metres high, 26 metres long and is set back 10 metres from the property line. When complete the piece will be approximately 34 metres long. The final 8 metre section will incorporate a large awning currently on the property. Access to the site is from Church Street in Collector.

Dreamers Gate was created by employing a technique adapted from ship building methods. The sculptural 'skeleton' is made from 4mm galvanized wire tensioned in place and secured to a 450mm deep concrete footing .The work is then strengthened by the use of galvanised piping as cross members. Finally, it is covered with a 'skin' of hessian, plaster, chicken wire, reo, mesh and a final layer of cement render. This technique is one that Tony Phantastes has been perfecting while working on two other sculptures located at private residences in Ainslie and O'Connor, in the ACT.

The present work on the monument was done in six stages working from right to left across the landscape. The linear nature of the broken gateway and the top one-third of the piece contain the view of the pastoral landscape behind. Both the colour and form interplay with the scattering of dead, bleached trees framed by Dreamers Gate.


With immense arches and the landscape showing through the sculptural windows the work can be described as being 'Gothic' in appearance, however it is celebratory rather than sinister in nature. The monument consists of six consecutive work periods by the artist with each of the panels representing part of the overall story.

Panel one stands on its own to the right of the rest of the piece. It marks the beginning of the monument and sets the tone for the entire work. This section forms the right half of the broken archway that is the framing device for the landscape behind. The bleached and broken limbs of the trees are repeated in the work as a naturally formed pattern of the trees in the landscape. But unlike the first section the patterns become more structures rather than random in their gestures. A small circular opening and a tall thin alcove below mimic the reflection of the moon across the pastoral landscape. A staircase spirals behind the archway as a visual invitation beyond the boundaries of the artwork.

The third panel repeats the tree imagery but in a much more subtle fashion. The random nature has become much more controlled and this section is primarily devoted to one visual element, a large circular opening. Pieces of glass and mirror imbedded in this section pick up reflections of the sun as it moves across the sky. The symbolic sun shape tells of the impact of the sun on this landscape.

The uppermost portion of panel four as with the previous panels is linear in nature, the main arch forming the basis for a spiritual image. The lower portion of the panel is much more figurative in nature. The head of a reclined figure is being comforted by the hands of the spirit, the left hand touching its face and the right hand resting on the top of its head. This is a figure at the time of its death, relaxed and at peace.

This next panel repeats the patterns and symbolism evident in the last. Both linear and figurative elements forming a spiritual link to the realities of life and death. In this panel the spirit figure takes on a questioning tone.The two hands are open pointing downwards and frame the linear shape of a head. The eyes are represented as single lines extending beyond the borders of the head. The cloak of the spirit figure forms a halo above the head through which two lines intersect. These elements tell of the departure of the consciousness from the body.

As with the two previous sections panel six contains the same linear figure interacting with more figurative elements below. In this case the left hand is holding a flame representing memory, while the right hand is sending away the disease which has taken the form of a snake.

The final and unfinished panel is intended to be a doorway to take the viewer from the past, as interpreted by the sculpture, into the renewed landscape of the future. The awning currently on the site is proposed as the structural framework for this section.

As a whole the sculpture is a narrative created by the artist to memorialise his father. It tells of the work-patterns of farmers in Australia removing the native bushland to grow crops and graze livestock. The narrative continues with the harsh reaction of the elements on the landscape after the vegetation was cleared. and in the next three panels the actual death of the artists father and the coming to terms with the emotional aftermath of that event. The final section when constructed will look to the opportunities in the future to give back to the Australian landscape those which sustained the artist as a child.


Work on Dreamers Gate commenced with the freestanding right panel in December 1993. Creation of the monumental sculpture continued with the completion of five more sections between 1993 and 1997. In 1997 the Gunning Shire Council issued a stop-work order on the site.


Tony Phantastes (nee Presser) was born in a agricultural community in South Australia. As the child of a soldier-settler living near Bordertown, South Australia, Tony Phantastes became increasingly aware of the effect man can have on the natural landscape. Each five years his father was contracted to clear a certain amount of scrub no matter if it was necessary or not.

Instead of following the path of his farmer father Tony opted for training as a teacher leaving the farm in 1971. In 1976 Tony moved to Canberra where he began work as a relief teacher. A desire to be creative led to him to spend two years at the Australian National University School of Art and even though he left before finishing the degree Tony obtained a sound understanding of the methods needed to construct large works.

Tony Phantastes currently(June '00) works on two specific installation projects. These projects all reflect a desire to make art public without the fear of having to interact with the forced intimidation caused by formal gallery spaces. By installing his works outdoors in public spaces he allows passers-by to be able to interact, criticise and take part in art in a comfortable and ever-changing environment rather than the interior spaces of institutionalised art. His works offer a visual challenge as they change in relation to the environment. His art is presented as part of our everyday lives rather than locked away.

The landscape behind and the climactic conditions of the area dictated the shape of the sculpture. Working on the piece at all times of the year from early in the morning to late into the night in all types of weather conditions determined how it was formed. Rather than being planned, it wrote itself against the landscape. Dreamer's Gate simply grew up out of the earth twisting against the wind and the elements in the same way the trees that it frames grew. Because of this the work is totally site specific.

The narrative was a way to express the emotions of losing a father to cancer but it also picked up on local elements like the rich history of the Ngunnawal people and the Bushrangers
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The sculpture is currently in good condition and has been deemed sound by a structural engineer. However the exposed areas at the. back which have been left open to the environment to show the council and the structural engineer how the sculpture was fabricated show some signs of rust.

The structural engineer has recommended that completion of the work is essential to ensure that it remains in sound condition. The current stop-work order has meant that the sculpture is not yet completed and the final layer of waterproofing material has not been able to be applied.

The monument is currently under threat of demolition. This decision along with the stop work order placed on the site by the Gunning Shire Council is being appealed in the NSW Land and Environment Court. The case is set to be heard before the end of 2000.
Church St, Collector
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Report Produced  Mon Sep 15 14:28:24 2014