Public art donation

• Fremantle council public art co-ordinator Corine Van Hall, artist Susan Flavell and mayor Brad Pettitt as The Shimmer is lifted into place. Photo by Steve Grant.

WEALTHY former miner and noted philanthropist Kerry Harmanis has donated a large bronze statue to Fremantle council.

Mr Harmanis, who cut his business teeth selling seafood at Leighton Beach in the 70s, made around $500 million a decade ago when his mining company Jubilee Mines was brought out by Swiss giant Xstrata.

These days you’re more likely to come across the mining baron meditatively plucking away at a mandolin then hauling a metal detector, but he’s become one of the state’s most generous philanthropists, supporting youth suicide and environmental causes.

His donated statue, Chimera, was designed by local artist Susan Flavell and will stand in Pioneer Park to greet visitors coming off the train.

It’s based on the Greek mythological beast the Chimera, which had a lion’s head, the body of a goat and a dragon’s tail; but in Flavell’s incarnation the tail has become a serpent.

It was originally called The Shimmer and built out of cardboard, but Mr Harmanis commissioned a bronze version because it reminded him of his Greek heritage.

“The Shimmer, Susan Flavell’s representation of the chimera – the mythical monster of the Lycean civilisation – instantly brought back memories of a Lycean tomb on the island in Greece where my father Kasteloriza, was born,” Mr Harmanis said.

Flavell said the statue had to be cast in Queensland because most of the local workshops able to work on that scale had closed.

After a last-minute reposition to ensure visitors’ last view of Freo wouldn’t be up the creature’s butt, Flavell says she’s thrilled by the prominent location.

“It’s really just fantastic that it’s out and people are seeing it,” she said. “I think that’s the best part of it, that people get to see it and hopefully they will like it and pat it.”

The artist’s pretty sure it’ll be strong enough to cope with Freo’s usual late-night antics.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said it was an incredible addition to the city’s public art collection.

“I’m sure people in Freo will instantly fall in love with Chimera, and we’re very grateful to Kerry Harmanis for his generous donation,” Dr Pettitt said.

by STEVE GRANT

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