By Evelyn Karatzas
Yanni Pounartzis, a Canberra-born creative with a passion for art has officially unveiled two limited-edition memorabilia items as part of a collaboration with the Royal Australian Mint and Australia Post.
The items, a $1 coin and a postage stamp, were released on Monday, September 4 and feature Yanni’s most popular sculpture, ‘Big Swoop’ – a giant magpie eating a chip.
Accompanying Big Swoop are the Telstra Tower and a Canberra bus shelter that are also featured in the background of the coin, which Yanni says are two other Canberra icons.
“The Royal Australian Mint and Australia Post approached me about a year ago with the proposal, and obviously there was an embargo so I couldn’t say anything until the date of release, and it was honestly quite difficult to keep a secret,” Yanni told The Greek Herald.
“As an artist, it’s a huge honour to have this kind of recognition and endorsement by the Royal Australian Mint and Australia Post.”
The Canberra icon, Big Swoop was initially constructed in 2021 thanks to a grant from the City Renewal Authority.
“I had the idea of a magpie eating a chip in Garema Place before the grant came out,” Yanni said.
“Garema Place (in Canberra) is an area highly populated with magpies and they kind of own that urban space, so when I received the grant, I thought that it was a good opportunity to bring them alive.
“To me, it was just a fun artistic idea at first, and I knew a lot of people were fans of magpies.
“I didn’t expect how quickly it would become an icon in Canberra. There was so much excitement and support from the whole community.”
The fibreglass sculpture, Big Swoop has now also been included as one of Australia’s 10 Big Things alongside the iconic Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Jumping Crocodile, the Big Lobster, the Big Tasmanian Devli, the Big Blue Heeler, the Giant Murray Cod, the Giant Koala and the Giant Ram.
Several months after constructing Big Swoop, Yianni decided to set up an online merchandising store with T-shirts, beanies and caps due to the popularity of the sculpture.
“Now that we’ve got the collectible coin and stamp, people are going crazy for them,” the Big Swoop artist said.
“They’re selling fast, and I even had trouble getting my hands on one of the coins.
The $1 coin is only available through the Mint and the postage stamp, through the Australia Post.
“You can also get the coin in a collectible pack along with the other Australian icons listed in the 10 Big Things.”
There are also 1000 pure silver coins created, featuring Big Swoop, that can be purchased at the Royal Australian Mint.