Islay Statue

Islay Statue, Queen Victoria Building, George St, Sydney

Public Art : Islay Statue

Sculptor : © Justin Robson

Date Unveiled : 1987

Description : A 60cm bronze statue of a Queen Victoria's favourite pet, a royal Skye terrier sitting on its hind legs, as though he is begging.

Location : The pooch is propped up on a sandstone wishing well outside the Queen Victoria Building, George St, Sydney (right next to her owner's statue, Queen Victoria).

Inscription :

The legend of Islay
Islay was a favourite pet of Queen Victoria. Whenever he saw the royal mistress he would sit up and beg for a biscuit. He was often sketched and painted both by Queen Victoria and Sir Edwin Landseer, her painting master. The bronze sculpture by Justin Robson was modelled from a sketch drawn by Queen Victoria in 1842. Now over a century later, Islay is begging hopefully for a coin to help deaf and blind children of New South Wales.

Islay died 26th April 1844 and buried in Adelaide Cottage, Windsor Castle.


History of Islay : Poor old Islay is immortalised in bronze, eternally begging. If that wasn't bad enough, the much loved terrier of Queen Victoria, has another trick up its paw, if you happen to walk passed (when it is working). The pooch will actually talk to you via a recorded message. But don't be fooled, the voice is none other than (retired) king of talkback, John Laws, and not Islay, who will try to convince you, he has been blessed with the power of speech, and to try to make you part with some money. Here is his infamous lines;  "Hello, my name is Islay. I was once the companion of the great Queen Victoria. Because of the many good deeds I have done for deaf and blind children, I have been given the power of speech." The terrier was named after a place in Scotland, though it is unsure whether the Queen ever visited, Islay.

Islay didn't have a very long life. He died after getting into a fight with a cat.  Queen Victoria recorded: `My faithful little companion of more than five years, always with me’

Scandal and Controversy : It was in 1998 that John Laws agreed to provide the voice of Islay and ironically around the same time the talkback king was involved in the "cash for comment" scandal. Some people threw money into the well, just to hear John Laws bark.

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