Animal Art and Statues

Elephants, tigers and apes
Any Elephants that are not in Taronga Zoo are mostly found in parks and playgrounds, like a trio found in the Sir Joseph Banks Pleasure Gardens in Botany, which also includes some terrifying apes. The famous pleasure grounds by Botany Bay were the main attraction of the old Sir Joseph Banks Hotel in its heyday in the 19h Century. In the 1840's and 1850's, the Sir Joseph Banks Zoological and Botanical Gardens featured the colony's first zoo, arbours, walkways, sports areas including Australia's first professional foot racing tract, playgrounds, amphitheatre and a large lunch pavilion. The park was entirely restored and upgraded for the Bicentenary in 1988, and the effort s corporate sponsors were immortalised in concrete at the east end of the park.

Speaking of elephants, the once famous Robur elephant, on loan from Wirth s Circus, made a tour of Robur tea rooms in the 1930s, including the Bussell Brothers store on Anzac Parade in Maroubra and the city rooms at 695 George Street. Here the creature was posed with a giant teacup and some slightly nervous companions.

The Huntsman and Dogs
One of the most loved sculptures featured in the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney, it is a copper coated cast iron copy of the original by French sculpture Henri Jacquemart (1824-96). It was cast by the Val d'Osne Company c.1879.

Il Porcellino
Visitors to Sydney who wander up Macquarie Street usually up stopping outside Sydney Hospital to rub the nose of a brass statue of a wild boar. The statue is a replica of Il Porcellino, cast by Baroque master Pietro Tacca in 1612. One of five produced by Florence foundry Fonderia Ferdinando Marinelli in 1962, the replica of a 17th Century fountain in Florence's Mercato Nuovo guards the entrance to the hospital. The statue, which symbolises the close friendship between Australia and Italy, was donated to the hospital by an Italian Sydneysider Clarissa Torrigiani, in 1968,in memory of her father Dr Thomas Fiaschi and brother Dr Piero Fiaschi, who both served as surgeons there.

The father and son also served Australia in war. Thomas was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty shown searching for wounded in the trenches of the Beor War. In World War 1 he set up a hospital on Lemnos, Greece. In the same conflict, son Piero served in Egypt, Gallipoli, France and England and rose to lieutenant-colonel.

A plaque beside the fountain states "When you rub my nose and make a wish your donation supports research, education and development at Sydney Hospital." Given the shininess of the pig'snose, it would seem most visitors have accepted the invitation, but a look at the base of the statue shows that the pig's nose is not the only part of his anatomy that gets rubbed!

Kangaroo Gargoyle
The Quadrangle of the University of Sydney is a magnificent example of neo-Gothic architecture, with gargoyles high on the walls, especially those around the Clocktower on the eastern side. Gargoyles are commonly associated with medieval gothic architecture in which fantastical, mythical, ghastly or eerie stone-carved creatures serve as a waterspout or a drain from a building; water normally passing through the mouth of these carved creatures. Medieval superstition held that gargoyles also frightened away evil spirits.

Take a closer look, and there are motifs here that you won't find on the spires of the Universities of Oxbridge, the buildings it was designed to replicate. There are a surprising number of references to local flora and fauna, the most unexpected of these being kangaroo gargoyles, created by stonemasons under the direction of colonial architect Edmund Thomas Blacket.

University of Sydney Lion
The lion is a traditional symbol of Great Britain, although it also used as a symbol in various other cultures. A common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises bravery, valour, strength, and royalty, because historically it has been regarded as the king of beasts. When the University of Sydney quadrangle was being built, New South Wales was proudly a British colony, so what better symbol to adorn its main building that a lion holding a shield carrying the Royal Standard - Coat of Arms of Great Britain.

Trim The Cat
Trim the Cat dwells in the shadow of the statue of his master, Matthew Flinders' outside the State Library of NSW on Macquarie Street. Flinders noticed that he was a gentle and kind-hearted and gave him the name of Trim, after a kind-hearted and humble cat owned by his Uncle. Trim is perched lightly, a front paw aloft and eyes uplifted in an expression of feline attentiveness, on the sandstone window ledge outside the Friend's Room of the Mitchell Library.

In front of Trim, Flinders looks sternly out towards Macquarie street, grasping a sextant. As well as a colonial hero Flinders was a cat lover. He was so taken with his wily ship's cat that he wrote a book about Trim's charms, describing his intelligence, his bravery and sure-footedness at sea, and his repertoire of tricks. Two weeks after Flinders was placed under house arrest by the French Governor of Mauritius in 1803, Trim went missing, never to be seen again.

Manly Kangaroo
What is hailed as Manly's oldest European artefact, the stone statue of a Kangaroo on Kangaroo Street, Manly, was the brainchild of Henry Gilbert Smith, the man who developed Manly as a resort destination for Sydney holidaymakers in the 19th century. Many believe that Smith commissioned Thomas Youl, one of many stonemasons working for jim t that time, to fashion and erect the statue on the hill as a point of interest for visitors. However, it is claimed in the obituary of a photographer, Charles Pickering, that he was residing in Manly in 1857, and carved the Kangaroo in his spare time. Kangaroo Street was named because of the statue which is nearby.

Billy the Dog
This statue was a gift to the people of Mosman as a reminder of the reliance of animals on man and the debt mankind owes to animals. For 17 years Billy was a familiar figure in Mosman as he went on the daily rounds beside his master (a street sweeper with Mosman Council). When he died the locals decided to honour his memory with this statue.
Location: The esplanade, Balmoral Beach.

Islay The Dog
Just as Trim the Cat dwells in the shadow of Matthew Flinders' statue outside the State Library of NSW, so does the terrier Islay with Queen Victoria, outside the Queen Victoria building. Pause at the edge of Islay s wishing well for a few moments and he starts to speak (with the voice of radio personality John Law). His abrupt "hello" has startled decades  worth of unwary tourists and infrequent city visitors who lean up against the fountain. Islay lives by wishing well at the edge of a circular sandstone structure which was constructed to hide the large air vent necessary for the carpark below the Queen Victoria Building. An ornamental grille disguises the vent as a Victorian folly. Islay was Victoria s favourite dog and his signature trick was to sit up on his hind legs and beg for treats. The Sydney Islay sits in this pose and, via the medium of Laws, he requests we cast a coin  into the wishing well for the good of deaf and blind children. A moment passes. "Thankyou", says Islay, then follows up with a few mechanical woofs.

BMA House Koala
BMA House is an early Sydney Art Deco-style skyscraper, lavishly decorated with gothic and medieval motifs and the flamboyant incorporation of Australian iconography - including particularly the Koalas at the top of the front facade. The terracotta faience was manufactured locally by Wunderlich. The building won the RIBA Award for Street Architecture in 1935 and RIBA Bronze Medal. At 12 stories it was one of the tallest of the new skyscrapers in Sydney at the time, but what set it apart was the extraordinary decorations.
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  • Queenscliff Lagoon Park Sculptures
    Eight sandstone sculptures, associated signs and murals focus on raising community environmental awareness of Manly Lagoon catchment s native terrestrial and aquatic fauna The animal mascots were designed by community artist Renee Monique, and reflect a sample of Manly Lagoon catchment s native wildlife. The sandstone sculptures were created by northern beaches based Ishi Buki sculptors, , with associated signs and environmental messages based on artwork submitted by local schoolchildren.
    Location: Quota Park Playground, Manly Lagoon foreshore, Queenscliff.

    Biggles, who was slightly larger than a mini Schnauzer, was a well known member of The Rocks community. He could be seen on the back of a bike, travelling in a milk crate, with his daredevil pillion-riding owner keeping control. The statue stands proudly outside the house in which Biggles' owner, Trevor Kelly, who lived on the corner of Atherden and Playfair Streets in the Rocks. Biggles was a local character among the residents and shopkeepers as he roamed the Rocks Area sometimes leaping from balconies in pursuit of cats. Unfortunately for Biggles, his final leap was off a cliff near Mrs Macquarie`s Chair after what was thought to have been a rat.

    Mare and Foal
    'Mare and Foal' is a bronze statue mare (La Reyna) and her foal by the French artist, Arthur J. le Duc, purchased in 1891, and donated to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1958. The statue is in Lawned Area at Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
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