Vasco de Gama memorial

Vasco de Gama memorial, Fremantle, Western Australia

Public Art : Vasco de Gama Memorial (aka Portuguese Memorial)

Sculptor/Artists : © Ciare Bailey (sculptor), Edgar Nailor (ceramicist) and John Kirkness (designer)

Description : The Vasco de Gama memorial was inspired by the strong Portuguese community in Fremantle (and also in the Fremantle council electorate).

Date Unveiled : The Vasco de Gama memorial was unveiled on the 28th of June 1997.

Location : In the Esplanade Reserve, across the railway line from Fishing Boat Harbour, Fremantle, Western Australia.

Inscription :

This Memorial was unveiled on 28th June 1997
Made possible with the generous assistance and support of
The Portuguese Government
The Honary W.A. Portuguese Consul
The Portuguese Community
The City of Fremantle
Celebrate W.A.
John da Silva (Bell-Vista)

Ceramicist Edgar Nailor
Sculptor Ciare Bailey
Designer John Kirkness

Who was Vasco de Gama ? : Vasco de Gama (c.1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer famous for being the first commander to sail directly from Europe to India in 1498. He returned to Portugal a hero. On his second trip to India in 1502, however, the now Admiral, took with him 20 armed ships to protect him from unhappy Muslim traders. Subsequently hundreds of Muslims were killed in his quest.

Background to the Vasco de Gama Memorial : What the actual connection between Vasco and Fremantle are, seems something of a mystery as the explorer never made it to the shores of western Australia (to anyone's knowledge). The closest Vasco got was India and that ain't anywhere near Freo. However after a little digging I discovered an article in the Quarterly Newsletter 'The Australian Association for Maritime History' and if that is anything to go by it suggests the memorial was all very politically motivated. Evidently in 1997 there was a significant number of Portuguese in the Fremantle electorate. So what better way to sway votes than to build a memorial. The argument was that other explorers had duely being recognised why not the Portuguese? I'll tell you why, because they weren't hanging around these shores like the English, Dutch and French were and least of all Fremantle. A simple memorial to Portuguese explorers (in general) or even migrants would have been vote swinging enough, you would think. Oh and before I get it good by historians, yes it has recently been claimed that the Portuguese may have been the first to discover Australia.




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