Cr backs statue call with her own cash

Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith’s design for the Edith Cowan statue.

THE inner city is set to get a second statue of a woman within a year, with Perth councillor Sandy Anghie personally funding a commemoration of Edith Cowan. 

The Perth CBD has an army of blokes cast in bronze but until this year there were as many statues of kangaroos as there were women (three each).

Then in June a statue of Aboriginal resistance figure Fanny Balbuk Yooreel (1840-1907) designed by sculptors Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith was unveiled on the grounds of Government House. It was the first woman on the statue-heavy St Georges Terrace.

Cr Anghie has been keen on getting more statues of women in the city and moved a notice of motion at the August 2021 council meeting that the City of Perth investigate a new statue for women. It was voted down, so she’s put her money where her motion was and bankrolled the Edith Cowan statue. 

Sandy Anghie says Perth needs to better recognise the women who made this city. File photo

“In March this year, around International Women’s Day, I started calling around with the intention of starting a fundraising campaign for a statue of a woman on St Georges Terrace in Perth,” Cr Anghie told us via email.

“One of the first people I called was Lesley Williams, the president of the Karrakatta Club. She made me aware of an existing proposal by the Studio of Smith Sculptors. It was serendipitous. The proposal was for a statue of Edith Cowan.

“The story of Edith Cowan is truly inspirational. A story that transcends time and politics. 

A woman that should be recognised and celebrated for her contribution to our city and our state with an enduring visual reminder.”

Cr Anghie and her husband Michael are donating $245,000 for the statue and artists Ms Walsh-Smith and Mr Smith 

are returning to sculpt it at a reduced rate. They want to put it outside the Karrakatta Club at Anzac House at 28 St Georges Terrace. Ms Cowan was involved in founding the club in 1894 to advocate for women and help them enter public life. It would be within sight of the Balbuk statue.

It would be freely gifted to Perth council, which still needs to approve the location, and Cr Anghie had to step out of the chamber while her colleagues discussed whether it was the right spot at this week’s council briefing.

For a gifted statue it ended up undergoing more scrutiny than the Trojan horse, and councillors demurred over the location and potential ongoing maintenance costs (about $1000 a year for cleaning).

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas suggested what he considers a more appropriate spot. 

“In my mind we’re constructing Edith Cowan University right in the heart of the city. And I don’t think there’s any doubt of the enormous achievements of Edith Cowan – I don’t think anyone in the community would doubt those.

“But how is this site 

[Karrakatta Club] better than at the front of the very university that bears her name and would honour her in the heart of the city?”

Karrakatta Club president Lesley Williams was on hand to say the Karrakatta Club building was highly significant to Ms Cowan, and it also hosts the RSL (Edith Cowan was a key figure in the RSL’s predecessor, the Welcome Soldiers Institute). 

Karrakatta Club past president Norrine Anderson also explained the artists’ vision of Cowan standing across from Balbuk, capturing a moment in time when both walked the streets of Perth. 

The council makes the final call at the full meeting on October 25.

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