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Published April 22nd 2016
Silent but striking statues
How many of us have wandered along our cultural boulevard, North Terrace in Adelaide, and passed by some of our most striking statues and monuments with little but a glance?
Most of these silent sentinels are of significance to South Australia's development, whether they be of a noteworthy person who has contributed to the social advancement and fabric of our society, a symbol to war or even figures from royalty and representations of the arts.
There is a large collection of sculptures along North Terrace but 8 outstanding ones that I think are worthy of mention include:-
1. South African War Equestrian Statue
This statue is believed to be only one of two equestrian statues at the time it was erected in 1904 - the other is housed in the National Gallery of Victoria. The work by Captain Adrian Jones really captures the spirit of the horseman, especially as the afternoon sun shines directly onto the rider's face. The first major war in which South Australia fought overseas, the South African War or second Boer War took its toll of 59 South Australians killed in action.
This statue outside the walls of Government House in Prince Henry Gardens would, in my opinion, have to be one of the best in Adelaide as it captures so well the relaxed pose of Dame Roma sitting in one of her favourite chairs reading a book. Having graduated with a law degree in 1934, which at that time was ground-breaking for a woman, Dame Roma went on to become the first female member of Queen's Counsel, the first woman to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court in 1965 as well as first female governor of South Australia in 1991.
As a society, South Australia was seen as being quite progressive compared to some of the other colonies/states. One such example is that it was one of the first places in the world to grant women the right to vote in 1894 (after NZ). Mary fought hard for women's suffrage and was a great advocate for social justice for women and children.
What an amazing man to achieve what he did in his short 40 years of life - circumnavigating Australia to prove we were one continent, the first explorer to coin our country "Australia" and its people "Australians" and conducting detailed navigation and exploration of South Australia's coastline.
A huge and imposing statue outside the Institute Building, King Edward was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and reigned from 1901 until his death in 1910. It's a rather ornate memorial to a royal who only reigned for around 9 years but certainly it cannot be missed as you need to navigate your way around him to continue on your path down North Terrace.
A statue you wouldn't expect to come across in Adelaide is that of a Scottish poet, however South Australia had a substantial Scottish population early in its history and a Caledonian Society was soon formed. The statue, located outside of the State Library is believed to be the first public sculpture in Adelaide (as against the first public statue of Venere di Canova) dating from 1894. The Caledonian Society still operates today and on special occasions such as his birthday, members gather around his statue to commemorate.
Both locals and visitors from interstate and overseas are awed by our major war memorial on North Terrace erected in 1931 on Anzac Day. Built originally to commemorate World War One, today it is a symbol of all wars in which South Australians have fought in, right up to the present conflicts occurring in the world. The massive sculpture relief work has high significance showing a scene of both Prologue to War as well as on the reverse face, Aftermath of War. The whole area has been re-developed in recent times as an Anzac Memorial Walk and will be officially opened on Saturday 23 April this year.