The sculptor who created the statue of famous St George author Miles Franklin is asking that it recast in bronze to preserve it for future generations.
Jacek Luszczyk produced the statue in 2003 and it now stands on the corner of MacMahon and Dora Streets, Hurstville, on the site of the old council chambers where Miles Franklin wrote some of her works.
The statue honours the memory of Franklin (1879 - 1954) who was the author of My Brilliant Career and many other works and who was born in Bexley and lived in Carlton. Australia’s major literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award is named after her.
Mr Luszczyk, who is from Poland, made the statue in her honour after seeing the famous film, My Brilliant Career based on her book.
“It was my offering because I’m local,” he said. “It’s a gesture of friendship to Australia.”
Mr Luszczyk has a Masters in Sculpture and as well as his own work has restored the stonework on many historic buildings including Sydney Town Hall and St Mary’s Cathedral and repaired many damaged statues in the Royal Botanic Garden.
His original sculptures can be seen in the National War Memorial in Canberra, the Anzac Memorial at Glebe and in various churches.
“There were very limited funds to make the Miles Franklin statue so it was made out of artificial marble which is a mixture of white cement and marble dust,” he said.
The statue is backed by a mural showing scenes from her life including her friendship with famous literary figures of the time including Henry Lawson.
Community artist Gerti Stewart worked with others for 20 weeks producing the mural.
“When I came to the unveiling of the statue in 2003 I had no idea who Miles Franklin was,” Mrs Stewart said.
“Some of the local Chinese community left flowers and oranges at the base of the statue to revere her. They felt it was important to respect her memory.
“So we decided to do the mural so her story could be told.”
The mural was very much a community project. Mothers would stop so their children could add a flower or a bird. Graffiti gangs said they would make sure that the mural remained untouched.
Unfortunately it has not been the same story for the statue which has been damaged many times over the years, the last time on Melbourne Cup day 2010 when someone smashed off one of its hands.
“I’ve had to replace the hands at least three times,” Mr Luszczyk said. “’It’s a full-time job to repair the statue.
“It is a shame it is not cast in bronze. Even the locals are asking why it is not in bronze.”
Both he and Mrs Stewart are asking the new Georges River Council to consider recasting the statue.
Their call was prompted by the recent unveiling of a bronze statue of WWI nurse Alice Cashin at Woronora Memorial Park.
Mr Luszczyk said recasting the statue in bronze would have an estimated cost of around $17,000.
But he thinks it is worth it as the statue would be vandal-proof and be a lasting testament to the memory of Miles Franklin.
He said charging a couple of dollars for each of the new units being built nearby would help to pay for it.
They believe a perfect time for the unveiling of the recast statue would be on the 140th anniversary of Miles Franklin’s birth in 2019.
Both Mr Luszczyk and Mrs Stewart believe it is important to preserve the statue, not only for the memory of Miles Franklin but for the new communities coming into Hurstville to have a symbol connecting them to the suburb’s past.