Women’s statue call

PERTH needs a statue commemorating a significant woman to break up its conga line of stony-faced blokes, deputy lord mayor Sandy Anghie says.

She’s put up a motion for council to invite submissions for statues commemorating significant women, drawing on a quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book The Monument Wars to explain the need.

“A city is a book we read by wandering its streets, a text that favours one version of history and suppresses others, enlarges your identity or reduces it, makes you feel important or disposable depending on who you are and what you are,” the passage reads.

Cr Anghie told fellow councillors she surveyed the CBD’s two main arteries on St George Terrace and Hay Street and “found 20 statues of men, or representing men… and only one woman, and she is a kangaroo. I found two children, also kangaroos.”

Outside those two strips there’s a statue of feminist activist Bessie Rischbieth on Elizabeth Quay, a statue of sister of mercy Ursula Frayne at Victoria Square, and Judith, a statue of a nine-year-old Judith Anketell (nee Fyfe) perched in Howard Street.

Cr Anghie notes while the blokey statues are “larger than life, powerful male figures”, the few women tend towards diminutive barefoot Bessie and nude young Judith.

“What message does this send to young women, or in fact any visitor to our city?”

She added “in addition to the lack of women, where is our indigenous history visible on our streets? This also needs to be addressed.”

They’ll put out a call for submissions and then consider listing some funds. It usually takes about two years from setting a brief to installation day.

Statues can be pretty pricey: The Sir Charles Court bronze installed on St Georges Terrace in 2011 was paid for by the state government and cost near half a million dollars.

As for who pays for the woman statue, Cr Anghie said existing statues had been paid for by either council, state government, the private sector or community groups, and they could all be tapped to chip in. 

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