Bonds of Friendship sculpture

Bonds of Friendship sculpture, public art, Sydney, John Edwards Robinson

Public Art: Bonds of Friendship sculpture

Also known as : The Australian Bonds of Friendship sculpture

Sculptor: © John Edwards Robinson

Description: The Bonds of Friendship sculpture which celebrates the journey of the First Fleet and the bond of friendship between Australia and Britain, consists of two large bronze interlocking rings resting on a stone plinth. This is one of two produced. The other, with a deliberately duller finish, resides at the gates of Sally Port, Portsmouth, England.

Artist's Statement : "These are the feelings I wanted to express with a symbol. I found it by creating the strongest chain possible ... a chain with only two links, locked so tightly together it is inseparable, thus able to withstand the pressures of life."

Date Unveiled : The Bonds of Friendship sculpture was unveiled on the 17th September, 1980 by Sir Zelman Cowan, the then Governor General of Australia.

Funded By : The Bank of New South Wales

Location: The Bonds of Friendship sculpture was originally erected outside Customs House, Circular Quay but now resides in the Jesse Street Gardens, just near Macquarie Place, Sydney CBD, Australia.


First Fleet Memorial

This memorial commemorates the voyage and arrival in Sydney of the First Fleetwhich brought to Australia its first European settlers under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. R.N. The Fleet sailed from Portsmouth on 13th May, 1787, and anchored in Sydney Cove at a spot just north of this memorial on 26th January, 1788.

The Fleet comprised eleven ships, H.M.S SIRIUS flagship, H.M.S. SUPPLY an armed tender, Six transports ALEXANDER, LADY PENRHYN, CHARLOTTE, SCARBOROUGH, FRIENDSHIP, and the PRINCE OF WALES, together with three store ships FISHBURN, GOLDEN GROVE and BORROWDALE. At departure they carried a total complement of about 1487 who embarked at Plymouth, Portsmouth and the Thames.

The plinth of the memorial was donated by the Fellowship of The First Fleeters, all of whom are direct descendants of those who arrived with the First Fleet. The granite block above the plinth was quarried at Dartmoor, England and donated to the City of Sydney by the City of Portsmouth as a return gift from a similar block of granite from N.S.W. given to them by the City. It was set in place the Lord Mayor of Sydney on the 2nd of July, 1980.

The sculpture , Bonds Of Friendship, was presented by the Bank of N.S.W. It is a companion piece to the one proposed by the Lord Mayor's Australian Settlers Commemoration Comittee of Portsmouth and which is located near the Sally Port at Portsmouth Harbour through which Captain Phillip and many of his fellow voyagers passed on their way to embark.

The Bonds of Friendship symbolizes the closeness of the ties that were forged between Portsmouth and Sydneyas a result of the the voyage of the First Fleet and represents a links in a chain joining both cities . It was designed by John Robinson. The donor , The Bank of New South Waleswas the first bank and the first corporation established in Australia.

The Bonds of Friendship was unveiled on the 17th of September, 1980.

His Excellency Sir Zelman Cowan, A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.ST.J., Q.C.
Governor General of Australia

Alderman Nelson Meers
Lord Mayor

L.P. Carter O.B.E.
Town Clerk

Mrs B. Lewis - President
Fellowship of the First Fleeters

Sir Nopi Foley O.B.E.
President Bank of New South Wales

Controversy: In 1997 the Bonds of Friendship sculpture was removed from Alfred Street Square and placed in storage at the city's Bay Street depot while upgrades to Circular Quay area were being made. By June, 2001, the sculpture had failed to resurface, which resulted in a rather angry Hon Greg Pearce addressing the Chamber in the Parliament of New South Wales asking "Why has the Lord Mayor and the Premier refused to restore this symbol of Australia's heritage?".

The Lord Mayor blamed the delay in reinstalling the work on the failure to get approval to have it relocated to an area adjacent to the Australian Maritime Museum.

In Mr Pearce's closing statement he stated that "The British have not pulled down their sculpture and put it in a store room. It is appalling that we have been so offhand with this symbol of the friendship between our two countries." and called on the then Premier Bob Carr have the sculpture returned to its "appropriate place".

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Reference : Parliament of New South Wales, Hansard Transcript,  Bonds of Friendship Sculpture, speaker Hon Greg Pearce, 21st June, 2001.

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