June 16 - 22, 2019: Issue 409



by George Repin

The Central Business District of Sydney abounds with statues, fountains and wishing wells, but they seem to be ignored by the city’s workers as they hurry about their business. Tourists, on the other hand, find many of them interesting, read the inscriptions and can be seen taking souvenir photographs. Much of this street architecture, which includes some grand statues, has stories to tell and provides insights into the city’s history.

A statue of the young Queen Victoria, originally erected in 1888, stands in Queen’s Square near St James Church where it was moved from the centre of the square when it was redesigned following removal of the trams.  Albert, the Prince Consort, is on the other side of Macquarie Street in front of the Hyde Park Barracks.  After a long separation, during which he stood in front of Hyde Park and later in the Botanical Gardens, he and the Queen were reunited opposite each other in 1987.

An older Queen Victoria sits at the southern end of the Queen Victoria Building.  Until 1947 the statue was in front of Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Irish Parliament. After it was removed as inappropriate in the Irish Free State it was long neglected.  It was rescued to be presented to Sydney by the Government and People of Ireland “in a spirit of goodwill and friendship” and was unveiled on 20 December, 1987.

Statue of Queen Victoria outside the Queen Victoria Building

Nearby is a wishing well incorporating a bronze statue of the dog Islay, a favourite pet of Queen Victoria, modelled from one of her sketches (1). Sometimes, when the system is working, the dog will appear to speak, inviting donations. (The voice was recorded by John Laws.)  A stone from the battlements of Blarney Castle (2), a gift from the Lord Mayor and the people of Cork, is let into the front of the well.  Passer-bys are encouraged to “Touch the stone from Blarney Castle – make a wish – and cast a coin”. (Donations go to the Royal NSW Institute for Deaf and Blind Children).

 Islay – Queen Victoria’s favourite pet

Another wishing well is in front of the Sydney Hospital, watched over by a bronze statue of a wild boar, Il Porcellino, its snout polished bright by people rubbing it and making a wish and a donation to the hospital. Il Porcellino is a copy of a statue originally in the Mercato Nuovo in Florence and will be the subject of a future Reflection.

A statue of Athena (also known as the Kaphisodotos Statue) standing in the middle of Barrack Street, a gift from the Mayor of Athens to the Mayor of Sydney in 2000, reminds us of the outstandingly successful Sydney Olympic Games.  It is a copy of a 4th Century bronze of the Greek Goddess Athena (sculptor unknown). 

On an island in Shakespeare Place in front of the Public Library of New South Wales the bard stands above an impressive grouping of Shakespearean characters below on a plinth.  The sculptor, Sir Bertram MacKenna, is said to have portrayed five of the most famous Shakespearean actors of the time in their most celebrated roles – Falstaff, Hamlet, Juliet, Portia and Romeo.  An inscription on the base indicates the statue was presented to the City of Sydney by Henry Gullett in August 1914.  Unfortunately to have a close look means braving the traffic to cross the busy dual carriageway around the island.

Many more statues are tucked away around the city, each with its own story and its place in the history of Sydney.

Shakespeare Memorial

Stone from the battlements of Blarney Castle by George Repin.

Islay was the much loved Royal Skye terrier of Queen Victoria.  The bronze sculpture was modelled in 1842.
The Blarney Stone is a block of bluestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle in 1446.  According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence - or skill at flattery).

Photograph details: The Queen Victoria statue sculpted by John Hughes, located outside the Queen Victoria building in downtown Sydney, Australia. Photograph by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen at http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html

Queen Victoria's favourite dog "Islay", was sculpted by local Sydney artist Justin Robson.

Shakespeare Memorial: The memorial, commissioned by Sir Henry Gullett (the father of Lucy Gullett) before he died in 1914, was sculpted by Sir Bertram MacKenna and installed in February 1926.  Sir Henry had been President of the Shakespeare Society of New South Wales.

Blarney Stone Photograph by George Repin.

Waymarks Website kindly provided the Shakespeare and Islay images taken by Paul's Paper.

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers  The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia  Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots  Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images  Gardens  Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto  Rovinj  The City Walls of Dubrovnik Monaco - Snapshots   Bonifacio, Corsica  Autumn in New England USA  The Great Ocean Road  Pompeii  Didyma  Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915  The Corinth Canal  Malta  Snapshots of Amsterdam Café Central - Vienna  The Forbidden City - Beijing, China  A Ride on the Jungfrau Railway - 1954   Snapshots in the Highlands of Scotland 1954  Must See Sights in Paris - 1954  Corfu  Reflections On the Nineteen Thirties The Gold Souk in Dubai  Stromboli   Ha Long Bay - Vietnam  Lake Argyle The Bungle Bungle Range Langgi Inlet, W.A.  White Cliffs, NSW - 1990  Sturt National Park - May, 1990 A Few Statues and Water Spouts  The Dodecanese Archipelago  Rhodes  Lindos The Church on Spilled Blood - 2005 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad Repin's In "Ladies In Black"  Signs of the Times at Sydney Museum: Repin Inns

Copyright George Repin 2019. All Rights Reserved.