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John Curtin Memorial

Artists Concept

Statement 1.0 Concept Theme

We have endeavoured to capture the sense of John Curtin, the man, a great and inspiring orator, social reformer and Australia's greatest Prime Minister. We have captured him at a moment in time when he holds sway over a spell-bound audience, his stance and gesture charged with the passion and commitment to his Country and its people for which he was highly regarded.

This moment in time was distilled from his great speech announcing Conscription after the bombing of Darwin which is arguably one of the most important speeches in Australian History. We studied video footage for many, hours, enthralled and emotionally overwhelmed by the man and the moment. We wanted above all to convey the true sincerity of this great man, his honest integrity, his belief in his ideals and faith in the endurance of his countrymen in what he knew to be a monumental test of heroic and super-human proportions that lay ahead.

There are many instances of his extraordinary devotion to the people of Australia particularly his commitment to our troops during WWII. This was his greatest hour for which he paid the ultimate sacrifice of his own life, when he truly took his place amongst the leaders if the World as an equal and in so doing saved Australia from a potentially horrific fate.

On a more personal level, our interest in John Curtin is more than passing. Understandably, as Australians of Irish birth, we view him with awe and pride as a fellow Countryman. Both his parents were born in Cork, Ireland where Joan Walsh-Smith was also born and like us they were also drawn to the great Australian dream, striving to contribute their efforts to the ongoing development of this country.

This connection with Ireland makes him a fellow countryman both Irish and Australian like ourselves. We have always held John Curtin as an example of what our common heritage can achieve. We feel this passion and long-standing interest in the man and his impact on Australian history has held for us a special and intense emotional response to the sculpture.

The task of creating after 60 years this fittin sculptural tribute to this great Australian/Irish patriot is more then just another sculpture commission. It has been a great honour and true inspiration for us as Australian/Irish Artists to have produced this work.

2.0 The figure:

The sculpture is cast in Silicon Bronze and stands 2.2 meters high. The stance and gesture of the figure is quite complex and was developed from a study of many images of John Curtin in' action'. We wanted to capture the essence of this man as a great leader and magnetic speaker with his his passion and honesty and commitment to the Australian Worker and socal justice.

His expression is one of powerful intensity capturing the very moment he was making his speech. He stands full square onto the audience, right leg forward to counteract the earnest 'lean' of his body. His right hand holds aloft a document, not only as a dynamic emphasis of his speech but also symbolic of all the Bills he signed into Law on behalf of the Australian people. His left hand counterbalances the right hand, the fist clenched to emphasise great tension and in a subdued mute appeal for reason and justice.

3.0 The Base:

The Base is of reinforced concrete, clad with WA Green Granite specifically chosen to link John Curtin to his adopted State of WA. As a result of developing the statue with this powerful gesture, we felt that it would need to be elevated enough to give meaning to the image and therefore raised sufficiently to reinforce the stance at 1.5m. This would probably be the correct height from which John Curtin delivered his speeches outside Fremantle Town Hall. Although the statue is set on a formal plinth, in a Classical manner, the stance being' of our time' is designed to engage the observer in an intimate dialogue of communication leading to a deeper interest in this great man. In a manner of all politicians of his day, John Curtin would have needed to stand, elevated, in order to communicate to an audience in the square.

4. 0 Research Undertaken to develop the Artwork:

We have utilized the resources of Curtin Library at Curtjn University, studied 3 x significant DVD's and Photo's of his life researched at Curtin Library

We have also read the books of Professor David Black and David Day

® " In his own words " (Letters and Speeches) by David Black and "Friendship is a Sheltering Tree " - (John Curtin's letters 1907 -1945 )







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