Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Larger Than Life

This larger than life statue outside the Fremantle Town hall is of John Curtin, Australia's wartime Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945 and member for Fremantle from 1928 to 1931 and 1934 to 1945. 

Interestingly while clearing out some papers I came across an April 2006 copy of our local community newspaper the Post. Apparently the Curtin statue caused a real stir at the time of its installation. 

According to the Post article the statue divided the people of Fremantle. Some thought the statue was an excellent likeness while others described it as a "shame". In a move to resolve community views the Fremantle Historical Society held a forum. Prior to the forum people were encouraged to meet in St John's Square next to the Town Hall to have a brief look at the statue before going onto the nearby library for discussion and consideration of the questions: How did we get it? What do you think of it? What should we do with it?

The Post also reported that there had been a constant uproar since the statue was unveiled in August the previous year. Originally it had been intended that the statue would be in front of the Fremantle Town Hall, but people objected to "coming out of the building and looking straight up Mr Curtin's backside". 

But that is not the end of the tale. The article went on to say that the huge plinth on which this statue stands was shifted to the side of the Town Hall and placed in just about the same location where the council had planned to the reinstate the early verandah. Plans for this work, which has not gone ahead, had already been commissioned. 

And there was still more to the story. 

Fremantle sculptor Greg James whose enormously popular statue Pietro Porcelli is on the other side of the square had his entry form for the Curtin statue returned unopened because he was five minutes late in submitting his proposal. Joan Walsh Smith and Charles Smith were commissioned to build the sculpture at a cost of $250,000. 

Today the Curtin statue looks very much at home on the plinth at the side of the Fremantle Town Hall.

Next time I visit St John's Square though I will certainly be looking through different eyes at both the John Curtin and Pietro Porcelli installations.  


  1. This is a great post Rae. Thanks for all the info. It is always hard to please everybody.

  2. Interest interesting post, great photo, Rae.

  3. In my opinion, this is a very well done sculpture. Please have a good Wednesday.

  4. When you see a great photo of a statue such as this, you might not ever know the amazing stories behind the subject, or as in this case, the installation of the statue!

    Great historical story and lesson.


  5. I do like the simplicity of colour and the composition of this photo Rae. Congrats.

  6. Love the angle you've taken with this one Rae, great way to show off our fab blue skies. Tres interesting info also.