Stephen Coburn - Ute-opia

Ute - opia by Stephen Coburn

My Ute is called Ute-opia as the beginning of Ute EJ62 has been lost and therefore has no particular place of origin other than the highway, and it is only by chance that it has ended up here at Burrawang.

The Collins new English dictionary defines the word "Ute" to be one of a tribe of American Indians originally inhabiting Utah.
We here in Australia know better, the word "Ute" is short for utility and means a light industrial farm vehicle. The Ute has an average bonnet and motor, a normal sedan front cabin with larger doors, and a "bucket" or tray behind the cabin to carry livestock, dogs, hay, beer or anything that requires transportation.

The ute is the true horseless carriage that provides shelter and comfort for the driver and one or two passengers, and with strong suspension it will carry a formidable load as far as you can drive it providing it is fueled and serviced.
At the end of its useful life Ute EJ62 has been scuttled like a ship of the outback to form an artificial reef for wildlife. It has become a home and sanctuary for any wildlife that seeks refuge in her.

The three trees that grow up through her are grass trees or zanthoreas, "black boys" for the politically incorrect. There is a crow on the skirt of the central grass tree. A floury baker cicada hugs the trunk of the back grass tree, a black prince cicada sits on the skirt of the front grass tree.Two double drummer cicadas perch on the roof of the cabin and the bonnet.

There is a frilled neck lizard sunning himself on the bonnet and a western dragon sits on the roof of the cabin.

The body is the home of possums, bandicoots, and bush mice.

At the base of the grass trees there is a wallaby, an emu, a dingo and a wombat.

The highway has been painted on the windscreen and rear screen of the cabin like a rear vision mirror of the collective miles the ute has travelled.

Please approach this installation carefully as real and possibly dangerous animals may be nesting in it since installation.

Building the ute took one week with the help of Robert Dujin. We were both lucky enough to stay at Burrawang while we built it.

In addition to his individual artistic contribution of Ute-Opia to the Utes in the Paddock gallery, Stephen collaborated with Jim Moginie's sculpting of UteZilla.

Stephen Coburn building Ute-opia

Stephen Coburn was born in Sydney in 1955.He achieved his School Certificate in 1971 at St Ives High School and his Higher School Certificate at Chiron College in 1977. After attending Hornsby Technical College from 1972 –73, he studied at East Sydney Technical College between 1974-78, gaining his Diploma of Art(Sculpture). He went on to further study at Canberra College of Advanced Education from 1980 – 83, specialising in the conservation of paintings and fine art.

Coburn has also traveled extensively and has a diverse range of professional experience to his credit. In 1969-71 he lived in Paris and travelled to Italy, Spain, England Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. In more recent times he has also visited Indonesia, the United States of America, and made extensive trips around Australia.

After many years of concentrating on painting, having many solo exhibitions and exhibiting in numerous group exhibitions Coburn has returned to Sculpture. He exhibited at Sculpture By The Sea 2002, and in 2005 had an exhibition based on the Hawkesbury River called the Deerubbin Series at the Depot Gallery Danks Street. Coburn describes his style as a balance between Human endeavor and Nature; there is an environmental theme through his work.


1984 Coburn's Creatures Café Boom Boom, Canberra ACT
1985 Coburn's Creatures 2 Dorrett's Gallery bistro, Canberra ACT
1986 People I Love & Fear Dorrett's Gallery bistro, Canberra ACT
1988 Night & Day Galaxy Gallery Balmain Sydney NSW
1989 Every Day Life The Gallery Café Surry Hills Sydney NSW
1991 Highway Series Ralston Purina International St. Louis MO. USA
1992 Highway Series 2 POD Gallery Darlinghurst Sydney NSW
1993 Highway Series 3 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1994 Anzac Bridge Series Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1995 Anzac Bridge Series 2 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1996 Anzac Bridge Series 3 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1997 Central Australia Series 1 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1998 Central Australia Series 2 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
1999 Flinders Ranges Series Sydney Art Gallery Ultimo Sydney NSW
2000 Central Australia Series 3 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
2001 Central Australia Series 4 Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
2002 Studio Show Studio Annandale Sydney NSW
2005 Deerubbin Series Depot Gallery Danks Street Waterloo NSW
2007 Ark at the Landship Gallery Headland Mosman


1977 Collectors Exhibition Ann Von Burtough Gallery Newcastle NSW
1983 Unesco Exhibition Telecom Tower Canberra ACT
1985 Nine by Five Exhibition Ben Grady Gallery Canberra ACT
1986 Kingston Artspace Exhibition Ben Grady Gallery Canberra ACT
1987 Canberra Art Workshop Exhibition Gallery 41 Canberra ACT
1988 Aboriginal Coalition Art Show Bondi Pavilion Sydney NSW
1989 New Art 1989 Sydney BMG Fine Art Paddington Sydney NSW
1989 Artists for Wildlife Australian Museum Sydney NSW
1989 Opening Show The New Gallery BMG Rushcutters Bay Sydney NSW
1990 Art St.Louis MO. USA
1993 Young Artists Exhibition Wagner Art Gallery Paddington Sydney NSW

1995 The Sight of Music Maudespace Sydney NSW
1995 Ironsides Art Auction Powerhouse Museum Sydney NSW
1995 Its About Time Graduation Exhibition Ivan Dougherty Gallery Sydney NSW

1997 Amnesty International Mask Exhibition Art Gallery of NSW Sydney NSW
1998 Out of Australia Contemporary Paintings in Shanghai China
1999 Mental As Anything Exhibition Wollongong City Gallery Wollongong NSW

2001 Mosman Art Prize Mosman Regional Art Gallery Mosman NSW
2001 Harmonic Visions I Tamworth City Gallery Tamworth NSW
2002 New England Art Prize New England Art Museum Armidale NSW
2002 Sculpture By The Sea Bondi Beach Sydney NSW
2003 Harmonic Visions II Tamworth City Gallery Tamworth NSW
2004 Humane Society Extinction Denied Exhibition Arthouse Hotel
2005 Humane Society Extinction Denied Exhibition Arthouse Hotel
2006 NAS - WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Sydney Artworld
2006 Casuarina Sculpture Walk Sculpture in the Vineyards.
2007 Sculpture in the Vineyards Hunter Valley
2008 Sculpture by the Sea Bondi
2008 Winter Exhibition Bell Gallery Berrima


1989 Hyatt Hotel Coolum Queensland
1991 John Ford Collection St. Louis MO. USA
1995 Corporate Collections Australia and International


1990 New Art Four Craftsman Press
1992 Images in Contemporary Australian Painting Craftsman Press
1994 Images in Contemporary Australian Painting Craftsman Press
1996 Images in Contemporary Australian Painting Craftsman Press

Sculptures by Stephen Coburn

Title: Son of Elvis
Dimensions: H 38cm x L 35cm x W 12cm
Medium: welded mild steel wax finish

Title: Double Drummer Cicada
Dimensions: H 17cm x L 36cm x W 16cm
Medium: Silver braised mild steel wax finish

Title: Floury Baker Cicada
Dimensions: H 17cm x L 36cm x W 16cm
Medium: welded mild steel wax finish

More information and samples of Stephen’s work found on