King George V Memorial

King George V memorial, Melbourne, public art

Public Art : King George V Memorial

Sculptor : © William Leslie Bowles

Description : The granite and sandstone monument to King George V is 16.8m high. The 3.6m high bronze statue of the King weighs 2.5 tons. He is dressed in the robes of the Order of the Garter. The other bronze statue is of Britannia.

Inscription :

King George V Memorial 1938-1952

William Leslie Bowles (1885-1954)

At a public meeting in 1936 it was decided to erect a memorial to "the beneficial reign of His Late Majesty King George V and the love and affection of his subjects in this portion of the empire ..." Funds were raised through public subscription. A limited competition was held and William Leslie Bowles was awarded the commission in 1938.

The design is highly symbolic. The twin columns of the main shaft are united by an architecual rendering of the bonds of Empire. The King wears the Order of the Garter Robes and the Imperial Crown, and holds a sceptre and orb. The sculptural group on the west face represents Britannia holding a cross and olive branch symbolic of Love and Peace, and two children representing the Dominions and Colonies. The unicorn and lion present the armorial bearings of the monarch. The memorial conveys some of the modernist principles espoused by Bowles, especially in the geometric composition of the figurative elements and the simplicity of the overall design.

Due to the time restrictions the bronzes were not cast until 1948. The memorial was unveiled by Sir Dallas Brooks, Governor of Victoria on Sunday 20th July, 1952.

Date Unveiled: The King George V memorial was unveiled by Sir Dallas Brooks, Governor of Victoria on Sunday 20th July, 1952.

Cost : £17,000

Controversy: When King George V died there were numerous debates about how to best honour his memory. Many wanted a new Melbourne Hospital named after him or a National Theatre. Some a home for disabled children.  In the end it was decided a nice equestrian statue would be most appropriate. After numerous arguments over the location (eg Parliament House , Princes Bridge or near the Shrine) it was finally decided to be erected in Kings Domain. By the time the contract was awarded to William Bowles in 1937 the horse idea had been scrapped in favor of a more modernist concept. 

Trivia : This is Melbourne's last royal monument.

So who was King George V ? : King George was the second son of Edward VII

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