Alexander Forrest Statue
Public Art: Alexander Forrest
Sculptor: © Pietro Porcelli
Date: Erected in 1916
Description: A life-sized bronze statue of explorer
and surveyor Alexander Forrest (2m high) in a romantic style on a Donnybrook (3m) sandstone and granite base.
Alexander stands with a double barrelled gun over his shoulder and holding a quadrant in his left hand. He is often
mistaken for his brother Sir John Forrest.
Location: The statue is located at the corner of
Barrack Street and St George's Terrace at the entrance to Stirling Gardens, Perth, Western Australia.
Commissioned by: Alexander Forrest Memorial Committee
with Frank Craig as Chairman, to raise funds through public subscription.
Background of Alexander Forrest: Alexander Forrest was
born on the 22nd of September 1849 at Picton near Bunbury, Western Australia. The local lad was educated at a
public school in Bunbury before later attending the Bishop Hale School (now known as the Cloisters) in
John Forrest, Alexander's older brother (later to become the first Premier of Western Australia),
began a career in surveying and it wasn't long before Alexander was following in his footsteps. Whilst under
contract by the Government Survey Department, John appointed his brother second-in-command and the two would often
partake in expeditions together.
During the 1870's and 1880's Alexander spent much of his time exploring areas of Western Australia.
Alexander explored and mapped much of the State's Northwest, including the Pilbara and the Kimberley regions. Click
here to learn more about Alexander Forrest. In 1901, Alexander Forrest passed away in Perth following a short illness and a
committee was set up to raise funds for an appropriate memorial.
History Of the Alexander Forrest Statue: Italian born
sculptor Pietro Giacomo Porcelli, who had recently arrived in Western Australia, was commissioned to create
the statue of Forrest. He started by modelling the statue in clay from Guildford, then casting it in plaster
of Paris before finally sending it to Pistoia in Italy, for re-casting in bronze.
The statue was originally unveiled in Florence Hummerston Reserve (corner of St George's
Terrace and Mount St) on 28th August, 1903, by then Premier, Walter James, but it was deemed a most
unsuitable location for such a prominent man. Regardless of people's objections it took thirteen years to
decide on a more appropriate place for Alexander. Eventually, in 1916, 7ft Alexander was moved to a
new and prominent location at the entrance to Stirling Gardens (then Stirling Square) under the strict
direction of Pietro Porcelli. Unfortunately Perth's first fountain, The Browning Fountain, had to be
relocated to make room for the statue.
WAS ERECTED BY HIS FRIENDS
IN MEMORY OF
C.M.G. M.L.A. J.P.
BORN NEAR BUNBURY 20TH SEPTEMBER 1849
DIED AT PERTH 20 JUNE 1901
AGED 51 YEARS
HE WAS THE FIRST EXPLORER OF
THE KIMBERLEY DISTRICT OF NORTH WEST AUSTRALIA
AND REPRESENTED THE DISTRICT IN PARLIAMENT
FOR 14 YEARS TO THE TIME OF HIS DEATH.
HE WAS SECOND IN COMMAND OF THE
EXPLORATION EXPEDITION FROM PERTH TO ADELAIDE
1870 AND 1874
HE WAS MAYOR OF THE CITY FOR SIX YEARS
FROM 1892-1895 AND FROM 1897-1900.
HE WAS THE GENEROUS FRIEND OF MANY.
Browning Fountain: In 1878 S. Browning from New
Zealand visited the Swan River Colony and noticed that Perth did not have a fountain. He duly presented the Perth
City Council with £50 towards the cost of building one. The money sat in the bank for 14 years earning interest
until someone bright spark mentioned it at the Annual Ratepayers meeting in 1892. The following year plans were
submitted for this long awaited fountain. The site was eventually agreed apon, the corner of the Public Gardens,
Stirling Square (Stirling Gardens). The fountain was ordered from Messrs Macfarlane and Co., Engineers and
Foundrymen of Glasgow and in 1896 Perth had its first and only 19th century fountain (but not for
long!). Today the whereabouts of the Browning fountain remains a mystery.
Trivia: The Alexander Forrest statue was the first
public commemorative statue erected in Perth, the first public statue in the State in commemoration of an
individual born in Western Australia, and the sculptor, Porcelli’s, first public sculpture in the State.
In 2001 the rifle was stolen and a reward of $200 was offered for its return, but no one came
forward. A replacement gun was eventually made.