Sculptor calls to replace Fremantle

Sculptor Roderick Browton on the spot where his statue of Captain Fremantle once stood.

Sculptor Roderick Browton on the spot where his statue of Captain Fremantle once stood.

CAPTAIN Fremantle sculptor Roderick Browton says the port city council should replace the founding father’s statue it abandoned in 1989.

Mr Browton, 64, who grew up in South Fremantle and now works from Balingup, says the statue he’d gifted was allowed to deteriorate despite his advising the council to raise it off the ground or fence it off from vandals. A 4WD driver even tried to rip the captain’s head off with a chain.

“They treated it with disrespect,” he says, describing as deplorable the council’s explanations of the statue’s mysterious, “no body, no crime”, disappearance.

The $70,000 gift ended up at the council’s works depot, a leg missing and split down the middle, leaving “no commemoration for Captain Fremantle in ‘his’ town”.

Mr Browton’s calls for a replacement follow lobbying by heritage advocate John Dowson to build a new memorial on the Esplanade reserve.

Mr Dowson says WA premier Colin Barnett is prepared to contribute $100,000 towards a “proper commemorative work” to replace the 2.3m statue built by Mr Browton near where Captain Fremantle landed in 1829 (Herald, January 5, 2013).

Mr Barnett’s office says the premier will consider Mr Dowson’s idea if the council submits a formal proposal, including details of its proposed contribution.

Mayor Brad Pettitt is not keen on the idea: “I don’t think there is a huge desire for it,” he told the Herald.

“There are lots of statues of dead white males, it’s not a priority of ours at the moment. The council is focused on other public artworks.”

Dr Pettitt says if the government wants to foot all or part of the bill the council might consider chipping in.

Mr Dowson and Mr Browton describe Dr Pettitt’s reference to “dead white males” as a pathetic cliche that smears the contribution of pioneers, “while allowing council to focus on trendy graffiti art and transient things”.

Mr Browton says Fremantle deserves a monument to recognise its founding father: “It would take about a year to complete.”

He says if the council wants him to knock up another it will cost $65,000 for a life size and just under $100,000 for a one-and-a-half-size.


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