Pietro Porcelli Statue
Public Art : Pietro Porcelli Statue
Sculptor : © Greg James
Date Unveiled : March, 1993
Description of the Pietro Porcelli statue :
A life size bronze sculptor of well known Fremantle sculptor Pietro Porcelli. The sculpture
depicts the artist at work, shaping his clay bust long after the subject matter has left (thus the
empty stool). The "artist works alone" theme seems to add a new dimension to the piece, given that Pieto died
a virtual recluse. The empty chair also allows the public to enter the world of the artist and model, to
sit and become part of the scene for a brief moment.
Location : Outside St John's Church, Kings
Square, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Cost : $22,500
Pietro Giacomo Porcelli
Born : Bisceglie - Italy
3 January 1872
Died : Perth - WA
28 June 1943
A tribute to his memory by his friend and
founder of the "Pietro Porcelli Memorial Fund"
Giuseppe Rispoli and his committee
Bruno Melia, Salvatore Sciano, John De Ceglie,
Armando Ranalli with the help of the community.
Major Works : W.E. Marion Monument - Fremantle
Alexander Forrest Monument - Perth
C.Y.O'Connor Monument - Mundaring Weir
C.Y.O'Connor Monument - Fremantle
Maitland Brown Monument - Fremantle
F.H. Piesse Monument - Katanning
Unveiled by his worship the Mayor of Fremantle
John A. Cattalini A.M., J.P.
31 March 93
Sculptor Greg James.
Background to Pietro Porcelli : Pietro Giacoma Porcelli was born
in January 1872 in the town of Bisceglie in Bari, Italy. Pietro and his father migrated to New South
Wales (leaving behind his mother and sister) when he was only eight. He attended the NSW Academy of Art before
returning to Naples to study sculpture and drawing with D'Orsi ( President of the Royal Academy).
On his return to Australia he went to live in Sydney, but the Eastern States was in the midst of an economic
depression. Salvation came with the discovery of gold in Western Australia. Pietro and his father decided to
try their luck in the booming State, settling in Henry Street, Fremantle. It was in Western Australia that Pietro
created his first commissioned work, a bust of Sir John Forrest, which was later purchased by the Forrest family
and which is now situated at the main entrance of Parliament House.
Pietro would have the honors of being the first local artist to create a piece of public art in WA and
it would be John Forrest's brother Alexander Forrest who would be the subject matter and the first West Australian to be
immortalized in bronze.
Plagued by financial problems most of his life, in 1907 he did a small stint prospecting for gold, to no avail.
A defining moment came when he won the commission for the C.Y.O'Connor
statue. Described as "Signor Porcelli's masterpiece" the artist's life seemed to be on the rise. He found
himself a wife and had two children, life was good. Unfortunately financial woes followed him . Added to this was
his great disappointment at being overlooked for the John Forrest Memorial in Kings Park (evidently local
artists weren't good enough). So he did what any self respected artist would do, he packed up and left for
Melbourne. In Melbourne he worked on the Shrine of Remembrance before being hit by a car and thrown under a tram.
Dejected and in ill health Pietro returned to Western Australia, only to see his marriage crumble. A virtual
recluse, Pietro Porcelli died in 1943, in Fremantle. It is believed he was still shaping clay until he
Interesting Points to Note : Several artists tried their luck
on the goldfields of Australia, among them was the English sculptor,Thomas Woolner (responsible for the Captain Cook statue),who came to Australia during the goldrush of 1852 .
Works of Pietro Porcelli : Pietro Giacoma Porcelli's sculptures
and War Memorials can be found throughout the state of Western Australia and include, C.Y. O'Connor statue (Fremantle), Maitland Brown (Fremantle),Tom Edwards Memorial Fountain, Alexander Forrest statue (Perth), Frederick Piesse (Katanning), Jewish Memorial (Kings Park),
Memorial to Fallen Soldiers (Midland) and several other War Memorials in Boulder, Kalgoorlie,
Victoria Park and Moora.
Works of sculptor Greg James : Unidentified Photographer (Perth)