No other sculptor has left his mark so definitely on the civic landscape in Melbourne as Paul Montford. …no one can doubt the energy with which he helped give sculpture its rightful place in the scheme of things, civic and national’ wrote Basil Burdett in Art in Australia in 1938. Yet little known about this artist whose work is so conspicuous, or about the sculpture he produced in London before emigration on the facade of the V&A, outside the Royal School of Mines, and elsewhere in the capital.
Based on the recently discovered letters of the sculptor Paul Montford (1868-1938), this book re-establishes a unique connection between the sculpture of two cities and exposes the professional networks that were maintained over great distance. It is the result of extensive research in Australia and Britain that has attracted funding and fellowships from universities in both countries. The book explores the significance of sculpture in furnishing the public spaces and institutions of the city of Melbourne with commemorative portraits of exemplary Australians and memorials in honour of the war dead. It reconsiders Montfords’s role in the transformation of the civic landscape of Victoria, both urban and rural, and the part his work played in the processes of public history, of representation and denial, issues that remain central to the study of Australia’s past.
Making Melbourne’s Monuments presents previously inaccessible archival material of great value to Australia’s cultural history and to the study of the expanded networks of British artistic practice. Located within family papers in Britain, these visual and textual sources document the professional activities and private concerns of a sculptor who played a major role in how Melbourne appears today. Paul Montford’s work raises issues of intense contemporary interest to art historians and academics in the humanities and offers a unique insight into the day-to-day activities of an artist, the logistics of making sculpture, and the complex emotional locus of the home and studio. Moreover, in documenting the significance of connections with London and elsewhere, this book also addresses ideas about art as an international exchange and establishes for the first time a relationship between Montford’s sculpture in both continents. In this way, it forms part of growing academic interest in Australia-British cultural crosscurrents and exchange.
To hear the ABC radio broadcast about making Melbourne’s Monuments, click here.
To see a film of the 2007 exhibition about Montford’s sculpture at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, click here.