A new bronze statue will be unveiled in Sturt Street Gardens later this year, the first by a female artist to appear on the city’s best known boulevard.
The work of Melbourne-based artist Lis Johnson is expected to go on display on the junction of Sturt Street and Errard Street in mid-2019.
Her statue will commemorate the life of the Ballarat-born George Devine Treloar, a hitherto little known former resident credited with saving the lives of more than 100,000 refugees in Greece in the 1920s.
Ms Johnson’s previous commissions include five giant bronze statues along the MCG’s Avenue of Legends, a sculpture of Rod Laver at Melbourne Park and the Vietnam War Memorial of Victoria in Dandenong.
Her work for Ballarat will feature a life-size statue of Mr Treloar along with a Greek refugee child.
Referencing the lack of female artists on Sturt Street, the Mayor of Ballarat Samantha McIntosh said:
“It’s the world we live in. There’s still so much to do but things are getting better.”
“George Devine Treloar was so well known for his humanitarian work and his support of women and children, so it is quite fitting to have a female artist.”
For Ms Johnson, who works from a studio in West Footscray, the hard sculpting work is about to begin. She will work with clay based on photos of a life model representing Mr Treloar.
“It’s an honour to be chosen as an artist,” she told The Courier. “As for female, I can’t help that but that’s all good.”
“I do tend to specialise in memorials, which I love because they are meaningful.
“I hadn’t heard about George Treloar until I heard about the sculpture project. It will be great – people of Ballarat will also learn about him.
‘It means that everyone becomes educated about an amazing story and a person they might not have heard of.”
The statue is expected to be unveiled half way through this year and will be the first new statue to appear on Sturt Street Gardens for almost 20 years.