Do animals make statues of us?
Why do we make statues of them? Why do we make statues? Perhaps to represent, remember, immortalise, inspire? I guess humans make statues, like humans make art.
But why statues of animals?
Animals have been our companions, our prey, our predators. They are our slaves, colleagues and heroes. They are our food. (Unless we’ve chosen to be vegan.)
I remember watching a documentary and hearing an orca handler say, “They do not love us as much as we love them.”
Is that why we make statues of them? Perhaps it is a way of grappling with the unknown, an expression of amazement that these so very familiar yet unfamiliar conscious others share the planet with us.
While walking through the Sydney CBD recently I noticed just how many statues of animals there are. From domestic pets to wild others, here are five of my favourites.
Il Porcellino: Ask a Sydney sider to meet you by the pig and they’ll know exactly where you mean. But the Sydney Hospital Pig, whose nose everybody rubs while they are waiting, is actually a wild boar. He was presented to the The Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital in 1968 by the Marchessa Clarissa Torrigiani in memory of her father, Dr Thomas Fiaschi and her brother Dr Piero Fiaschi who were eminent surgeons at the hospital.
Trim the Cat: Trim is famous for being the first cat to circumnavigate the Australian main land. Matthew Flinders is famous for going with him. The bronze statue of Trim by sculptor John Cornwell stands very close to Café Trim, on a window ledge of the Mitchell Library. Nearby is an inappropriately large statue of his chief of staff.
Royal Botanic Gardens: There are lions and sheep, bloodhounds and horses, birds and frogs, to name a few. You can spend whole afternoons wandering the gardens playing spot the animals.
The Tank Stream Fountain, Herald Square Circular Quay: Commemorating Sydney’s first water supply, the fountain abounds with animal life, evoking the woods and sunlight of War-ran, the old Aboriginal name for Sydney Cove. This sculpture by Stephen Walker was donated to the City of Sydney by John Fairfax and Sons Ltd in 1981.
Islay: He was reputedly Queen Victoria’s favourite dog. Now he lives in Sydney and begs for a living. He begs for the deaf and blind children of Australia with the help of radio personality John Laws. If you don’t believe me, you’ll have to listen to the recorded message that comes with the statue. Islay’s statue was created by sculptor Justin Robson.
I never thought about the many animal statues that abound in our cities. And there is no diubt that we love animals more than they love us. After all, why would you love the one that looks upon you as a potential meal?