Project in doubt
Monday, 26th February, 2018
By Michael Murphy
Council staff have canned the RSL’s idea to put a statue of a war hero in front of its building in Argent Street, and if councillors agree with them, the project could be scrapped.
The local branch of the RSL submitted a development application to council in November last year to place a life-sized sculpture of Reginald Roy Inwood on the footpath outside of the building he is named after, Roy Inwood VC House.
The WW1 soldier is the only Broken Hill recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award presented for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
The RSL had unsuccessfully lobbied the government for funding for years, but eventually raised the money from within the local branch, and they have approached a Perth sculptor to make the bronze statue.
Members planned on launching the memorial on Remembrance Day this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.
Those plans hinge on what councillors decide at its monthly meeting on Wednesday night.
Council’s planning manager Francois Vanderberg has recommended that councillors refuse the application because it’s “out of character with the streetscape” and it doesn’t support council’s Living Museum and Perfect Light plans.
He also said in his report that a statue in front of the RSL building was not in the “public interest”, and he suggested the RSL put it near the war memorial at the courthouse.
Council did not receive any objections from the public about the project, but council staff did criticise it, mostly the suggested location.
“There are a number of cluttered items on that part of the footpath including, a bush, bench, bin and two different didactic panels which do not explain the sculpture,” said council’s Gallery and Museum Manager in the report to councillors.
“None of these items do the sculpture justice or award it due respect.”
Council’s heritage adviser said the project did not fit in council’s Living Museum and Perfect Light plans.
“Locating an isolated statue in the street in a location that has no specific meaning except that it is outside the RSL building does not seem like a sound approach to public art.”
The city’s strategic development officer also mentioned the Living Museum and Perfect Light plans and listed the “big picture” ideas of that document, but did not support the location of the statue in front of the RSL building.
Last week, RSL president Des Kennedy said if councillors insist on moving the location, the RSL would scrap the plan altogether.
“All we want is the memorial out front of the building dedicated to him,” said Mr Kennedy, who served his country in the Vietnam War.
“If they want to put it somewhere else we’re not interested because it’s not for us then.”