John Curtin Statue

John Curtin Statue, Fremantle, Western Australia

Public Art : John Curtin Statue

Sculptors : © Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith

Date Unveiled : The John Curtin statue was unveiled on the 14th of August, 2005, by the then Premier of Western Australia, Dr Geoff Gallop.

Description : A bronze statue of Australian Prime Minister and Western Australian politian John Curtin.

Location : Outside Fremantle Town Hall, Kings Square, Fremantle, Western Australia. Originally the statue was going to be located directly outside the doors of the Town Hall, but people complained that they didn't want to walk outside and see John Curtin's butt!

Cost : $250,000.

Inscriptions :

John Curtin MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Member for Fremantle
1928-1931, 1934-1945


John Curtin is considered to be one of Australia's greatest ever Prime Ministers due to his inspiring national leadership during the Second World War. Curtin was born at Creswick, Victoria on 8 January 1885, the eldest son of Irish immigrants. He left school at 13 to help support his family and worked in a variety of jobs before moving to Western Australia in February 1917 as editor of the Westralian Worker.

Curtin married Elsie Needham and lived in Cottesloe with his wife and two children.He first entered the Commonwealth Parliament in 1928 as a member for Fremantle. In 1935 Cutin was elected Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Labor Party.

On 7 October 1941, two months before the attack on Pearl Harbour, Curtin became Prime Minister of Australia. As wartime Prime Minister following the fall of Singapore and the bombing of numerous Australian towns, he guided the nation through the darkest hours of the war.

On 5 July 1945 John Curtin, the only Australian Prime Minister to represent a West Australian electorate, died in office six weeks before the end of the war. He was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery.

This statue was unveiled by
The Premier of Western Australia
Dr Geoff Gallop MLA
On 14th August 2005

Sculpture by Joan Walsh-Smith and Charles Smith

History of the John Curtin statue : The unveiling of the John Curtin statue was to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II,  Curtin's death and the 175th anniversary of the state of Western Australia.

Controversy over the John Curtin Statue : It seems that not everyone was happy about the John Curtin statue being erected. In fact, in April 2006 the Fremantle Historical Society held a forum for the locals to discuss the sculpture. Evidently, some thought the likeness to Curtin was a "shame". The forum was to allow people to vent and voice their opinions. Gathering by the people included on the discussion panel, the issue really has divided the community. The panel included Professor John Teschendorff (arts administrator), Andra Kins (project co-ordinator for the statue), Helen Hewitt (former chair of Fremantle council's advisory committee on public art) and Ron Davidson (who knew the late John Curtin).

Sculptor Greg James had his submission for the statue returned to him unopened, evidently he was five minutes late for the deadline.

Some people were cynical about the Labor Government decision to spend public money on a John Curtin statue for the State's 175th anniversary. One Fremantle resident wrote to the Post newspaper with this question "Has $250,000 of public money been spent in the cause of Labor mythologising and propaganda?".



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