Monday, 31 October 2022

Rod and I are very pleased to be with you this afternoon for the launch of the Queen Adelaide statue, here in the International Rose Garden.

What a wonderful time and place to be unveiling this work, surrounded by the full bloom of spring roses.

I acknowledge the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and the volunteers of the Rose Society of South Australia for their dedicated work to maintaining and developing this space.

It is the perfect location for the new statue.

Friends,

In recent years, the statues that inhabit our public spaces have been a topic of considerable interest to the broader community.

Both here and overseas, the historical figures our predecessors have chosen to venerate in stone or bronze have generated lively debate, both by their presence and absence.

The statistics are becoming better known – such as the arresting fact that only four percent of statues in Australia are of women! As a Governor committed to gender equity I am delighted to see an important step being taken today on what will be a long road to rectify this.

It is encouraging to see an increasing focus on the need for public art that reflects the diversity of our history and contemporary society, not only of women, but indigenous people, multicultural communities and other groups.

I have been reminded recently of the power and impact of public art with the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In late 2020 a statue of Her Majesty was installed on the front lawns of Government House.

It has been very popular with visitors to our grounds, but after Her Majesty’s passing, became a focal point for the public to lay flowers and other tributes.

The presence of a physical representation of Her Majesty clearly aided the process of public mourning and individual expressions of respect, and indeed of public education and discussion.

For these reasons I offer my great thanks to everyone involved in the realisation of this project.

This statue of Queen Adelaide memorialises not only our the woman after whom our city was named, but a great woman in our history.

As Governor it has been my great pleasure to learn more about Queen Adelaide and on occasion to visit the Queen Adelaide Room at the Adelaide Town Hall.

Many of you would be aware we also have both a large portrait and a smaller more intimate representation of Queen Adelaide in the State Dining Room of Government House.

I acknowledge Genevieve Theseira-Haese who, as Lady Mayoress of Adelaide, led the ‘Her Story’ project which brought greater awareness to the prominent women in our city’s history, which first triggered Scott Eames’ inspiration for this artwork.

I acknowledge Scott for his artistic talent and ability to capture the essence of Queen Adelaide.

This statue conveys not only her physical appearance, as recorded in historical sources, but somehow also gives us a sense of the kindness and compassion for which she was known.

I think it’s in her eyes, as Scott has said!

I thank the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide for accepting his proposal to host this statue on permanent display.

The artwork reinforces the Botanic Gardens’ role as a place of both horticultural and cultural importance.

I also thank everyone who purchased a statue maquette, which raised the funds for the project.

May this statue inspire visitors to the Rose Garden and keep Queen Adelaide’s legacy alive for many years to come.