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art in adelaide - John Dowie
Image from the Adelaide Advertiser

A Tribute to
John Stuart Dowie, Artist
Born: 15 January 1915
Died: 19 March 2008 aged 93

By Craig Ritchie 2008

 
John Dowie's work has been an inspiration to all Australians and to South Australians in particular.
When I, as a newcomer to Adelaide, realised that many of his splendid sculptures were scattered in the streets and spaces of my new city, I decided to see how many I could find.


 So I invite you to join me
 as I take my first John Dowie tour of Adelaide.

We start, with camera, on the Eastern side of the children's
 boat lake in Rymill Park to find a drinking fountain about 60cm high,
 art in adelaide - John Dowie

then over the lake using the wooden bridge to the
Western (city) side to find a 150cm tall "Alice"
of Alice in Wonderland dedicated to "The Children".
art in adelaide - John Dowie

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In North Terrace, outside the Library, we find a bust of
John Dowie by John Wolfenden

art in adelaide - John Dowie

art in adelaide - John Dowie

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Now along North Terrace to Government House Wall for
three wonderfully lumpy John Dowie busts labelled
Mark Oliphant, Sir Mellis Napier and Lord Florey.
art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie
Mark Oliphant was a nuclear physicist of note and later the Governor of SA.
Sir Mellis Napier was Lt Governor of SA from 1942 until 1967.
Baron (Howard) Florey shared the Nobel Prize for his role in the extraction of penicillin.

 

Because this is a weekend tour we can't gain access to Parliament House
to see the Dowie bust of Sir Thomas Playford, so our next stop is the
Festival Centre Foyer where we find the busts of John Bishop, Professor
of music at the Adelaide University and Co-founder of the Adelaide Festival
art in adelaide - John Dowie

and of Sir Robert Helpmann, the sensational South
Australian dancer, actor, director and choreographer.
art in adelaide - John Dowie


Now a brisk walk up to Adelaide Oval and the Victor Richardson Gates
where we can admire the reliefs by John Dowie that celebrate
Richardson's sporting achievements in both football and cricket.
art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

 

Another walk back down to the city and Rundle Mall
to see the lively "Slide"
art in adelaide - John Dowie

 

Over to Victoria Square, the centre of the Colonel Light
designed city of Adelaide, where we see the
"once controversial" fountain by John Dowie.
art in adelaide - John Dowie


It is said to be created on the theme of the "three rivers"
from which Adelaide draws it's water,
but I find the birds being readied for flight
more meaningful for my new city.

art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

 

The next destination of our tour is Veale Gardens on South Terrace
and John Dowie's expressive Pan fountain located in the sunken rose garden.
art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

 

No longer walking, we travel East
 to Burnside Council Chambers to see The Skater
art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

 

Then West to Adelaide Airport and the
"Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith
War Memorial"
now hidden away near the disused domestic Terminal.

art in adelaide - John Dowie

The Vickers Vimy winning crew, sculpted in stone by John Dowie
art in adelaide - John Dowie

"Designed and built by Vickers Armstrong Ltd, this aircraft, named by its crew, "God 'Elp All Of Us", was the first aircraft to fly from England to Australia. On 12 November 1919, Captain Ross Smith and his brother Lieutenant Keith Smith and mechanics Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers, left Hounslow near London for Australia, taking up the challenge of Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who offered 10,000 on behalf of the Commonwealth Government for the first aviators to fly this distance in less than 30 days. Over the next 28 days they travelled the 11,060 miles, averaging 81 miles per hour over 131.35 hours, to land at Darwin on 10 December, 1919, and claim both the prize and a place in the records of aviation history. After a tour of Australia when the Vickers Vimy suffered from 'souveniring' and a period in the Canberra War Memorial, the plane was transported to Adelaide, being damaged by fire in the process. It was rebuilt from the original plans and stands now in the memorial at Adelaide Airport with John Dowie's stone sculptures of the crew, where it was unveiled in April, 1959".  -www.nationaltrustsa.org.au

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And then with hamper suitably packed for the beach,
we drive South to Kingston Park.
art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

art in adelaide - John Dowie

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On the return drive to Adelaide we call into the beautiful Carrick Hill
house and gardens in Springfield to see the playful "Turner Boy" 2004,
 a gift from Hardie Simpson, on the lawn in front of Carrick House.

art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie


Then on the other side of Carrick house at the centre of the rose garden we find
"The Ursula Hayward Fountain"

art in adelaide - John Dowie

art in adelaide - John Dowie art in adelaide - John Dowie

art in adelaide - John Dowie

*****


 

Further afield, and part of a different kind of tour, I discover more
 bronze busts of South Australian luminaries by John Dowie
in the Cellar Door of the Rymill Winery in Coonawarra.
The first is of John Riddoch, who founded Coonawarra in 1890
and the other is of his grandson, John Riddoch Rymill, an acclaimed polar explorer.

art in adelaide - John Dowie       art in adelaide - John Dowie 
Images kindly provided by Rymill Coonawarra 

 

In the main street of Penola stands a lifesize statue of Alexander Cameron,
the founder of the Coonawarra town of Penola.
Local man Peter Rymill tells me that John Dowie regarded it
as the
best life-sized human figure that he had ever sculpted.

art in adelaide - John Dowie

Image kindly provided by Peter Rymill of Coonawarra   


 


And now at the National Capital, Canberra.


The Queen at Parliament House

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 John Dowie .. Downer sculpture
Father and Son
Located in Garema Place, Canberra, this work was commissioned in 1964 by Alexander R Downer as a memorial to his father John Downer. John Downer was a significant worker for Federation and a member of Australia's first parliament in 1901-1903.

 

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