Bob Marchant breaks the sound with his bas-relief barrier

Bob Marchant in 1998 with his wall of dolphins that adorn the sound barriers on the Princes Highway at Sutherland. Picture: Peter Rae (1)

It's not every artist who gets to have in excess of 50,000 people view a piece of work every day, all year long, year after year.

Bob Marchant has achieved this attention as thousands of cars and trucks drive by his bas-relief sound barriers every day as they travel the Princes Highway, Sutherland Shire, Southern region of Sydney.

Bob Marchant explains:

In 2006 I was commissioned to design and help create the artwork for a half mile of walls that were being put up to protect houses both sides of the main highway that passes through the Sutherland shire.

The design I submitted was of whales, dolphins, cockatoos and parrots. 101 dolphins that stretched for a few hundred yards was the first to go up.3

It became so popular 50 whales followed.2

Then the cockatoos ...2

...and parrots. 3

Parrots on the Bob Marchant sound barrier, Sutherland Shire, New South Wales (2)

I don't think a lay person can begin to imagine the amount of work involved in such a project which Bob tells us took over 2 years to complete.

A French term from the Italian basso-relievo ("low relief"), bas-relief (pronounced "bah ree·leef") is a sculpture technique in which figures and/or other design elements are just barely more prominent than the (overall flat) background.4

Follow this link if you would like to read a short article about the History of Bas-Relief.

Fifteen years after the Bob Marchant sound barrier was erected Bob tells us: I still get congratulated by many people who love seeing it for the first time.3

Tomorrow we are off to Africa to learn more about sculpture.

© Thank you to Bob Marchant who kindly gave permission for the images of his work to be shared on AnArt4Life.

2. Image supplied by Bob Marchant (
3. Correspondence from Bob Marchant