A larger-than-life sculpture depicting Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth setting off on their bid to cross the Mountains is being prepared for a prominent local site.
Designed by Wentworth Falls sculptor, Terrance Plowright, the planned public artwork will show the entire crossing party — the three explorers, a scout, three convicts, four horses and five dogs. It will also feature two indigenous figures observing from behind enormous sandstone slabs which will form the backdrop to the art.
The project was initiated by the NSW Governor, Marie Bashir, who thought there should be a lasting legacy of the bicentenary of the crossing.
The preferred site for the sculpture is at Glenbrook, between the cinema and the information centre, but no final decision has been made. Blue Mountains Mayor, Daniel Myles, said Glenbrook “ticks a lot of boxes” as it was a gateway to the Mountains, offered a high profile site on the highway and was close to shops.
Clr Myles said a Sydney-based committee of “heavy hitters” had been set up to raise the money for the project. “Funds will come from outside the council,” he said.
But deputy mayor, Mark Greenhill has demanded full community consultation before any site is chosen.
He said normally when council was considering the installation of a large and permanent sculpture, it would first engage the community on the appropriate image and artist and also consult with residents to see if they supported having the artwork in their area.
“I am grateful for the generosity [of donors funding the statue]. However, I do wish other artists as well as this one had a chance to be the authors of an enduring image for the Blue Mountains,” Cr Greenhill said.
Mr Plowright, who has created a number of sculptures of historical figures, including Lachlan Macquarie and a huge Sir Henry Parkes, and whose five sporting figures adorn the Sydney Cricket Ground, has already spent more than 150 hours working on the idea and creating the final design. It will be eight metres long, eight metres wide and 4.5 metres high.
Mr Plowright said the Governor suggested the idea of a sculpture about 18 months ago. He had already been commissioned by the Premier to create a large Macquarie (which now sits in Hyde Park in Sydney).
His initial designs were more modest but he was encouraged to expand them by NSW Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts, who had spoken to the Governor and wanted the creation of a “national monument”.
Mr Plowright said he wanted the sculpture to be “user-friendly” and for children to be able to climb on it. He was hoping to start work on it next month (September).
“It’s a huge project and I’m seeing a minimum 10 people working on it in the studio, including three on the barricade, plus five people in the foundry working on all the casting of the bronzes,” Mr Plowright said.
Clr Myles said the community will be consulted when the committee presents a concrete proposal to council. He could not estimate when that might happen.
Clr Greenhill said he had some personal reservations about the image but would support the community if they wanted it. “I am not opposing this plan but I want to make sure people have a chance to have their say. Imposing something on the community would not aid acceptance let alone see it embraced.”
“I have also called for local artists and the First Peoples’ Committee to be consulted. It is vital that we observe and respect the diverse and important cultural considerations that may arise,” he said.