Statue debate

Perth’s feminine few

BESSIE MABEL RISCHBIETH (1874-1967) co-founded the the Women’s Service Guilds of WA, a feminist organisation campaigning to improve rights for women and children. 

Later she joined environmental causes, successfully campaigning against the plan to build a swimming pool in Kings Park, and unsuccessfully fighting the plan to fill in parts of the river to build the Narrows Bridge. At age 89 she waded into the river to try to stop the bulldozers.

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, the state government agency behind Elizabeth Quay, felt her stance was congruous with that development and commissioned a statue of her, installed 2016.

“Her passion for the Swan River is fitting with the Elizabeth Quay project, which reconnects the city with the waterfront, encouraging the people of Perth to enjoy the river’s natural beauty,” the MRA said.

JUDITH at 18 Howard Street depicts local youngster Judith Fyfe at nine years old.

Back in the 1930s the Fyfe family lived in the wake of the Great Depression, her father having lost his job when the bank he worked at collapsed. They found a cheap rental in a caretaker’s flat at the top floor of 18 Howard Street, close to a studio run by artist Karin Wigan (nee Tulloch, 1914-2002). Judith would sit patiently after school over the winter months of 1936 as Tulloch sculpted her in plaster and later gave her the work. 

70 years later the subject, now Judith Anketell, donated the plaster to Perth council, and it was cast in bronze to be displayed near her old home.

URSULA FRAYNE (1816-1885) was an Irish nun who was appointed Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mercy in 1842. 

She came to Australia on missionary work, persisting under harsh conditions after arriving in 1846 and founding the first Mercy school. 

The bronze sculpture by artist Gael O’Leary was installed at the Mercy Heritage Centre in Victoria Square in 2016.

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