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
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,
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".
In North Terrace, outside the Library, we find a bust of
John Dowie by John Wolfenden
Now along North Terrace to Government House Wall for
three wonderfully lumpy John Dowie busts labelled
Mark Oliphant, Sir Mellis Napier and Lord Florey.
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
to see the Dowie bust of Sir Thomas Playford, so our next stop
Festival Centre Foyer where we find the busts of John Bishop,
of music at the Adelaide University and Co-founder of the
and of Sir Robert Helpmann, the sensational South
Australian dancer, actor, director and choreographer.
Now a brisk walk up to Adelaide Oval and the Victor Richardson
where we can admire the reliefs by John Dowie that celebrate
Richardson's sporting achievements in both football and cricket.
Another walk back down to the city and Rundle Mall
to see the lively "Slide"
Over to Victoria Square, the centre of the Colonel Light
designed city of Adelaide, where we see the
"once controversial" fountain by 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.
The next destination of our tour is Veale Gardens on South
and John Dowie's expressive Pan fountain located in the sunken
No longer walking, we travel East
to Burnside Council Chambers to see The Skater
Then West to Adelaide Airport and the
"Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith
now hidden away near the disused domestic Terminal.
The Vickers Vimy winning crew, sculpted in stone by 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".
And then with hamper suitably packed for the beach,
we drive South to Kingston Park.
On the return drive to Adelaide we call into the beautiful
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.
Then on the other side of Carrick house at the centre of the rose garden we find
"The Ursula Hayward Fountain"
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.
Images kindly provided by Rymill Coonawarra
main street of Penola stands a lifesize statue of Alexander
the founder of the Coonawarra town of Penola.
Peter Rymill tells me that John Dowie regarded it
best life-sized human figure that he had ever sculpted.
Image kindly provided by Peter Rymill of Coonawarra
And now at the National Capital, Canberra.
The Queen at Parliament House
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.