The Fine Details

bon and me
[The author clutches Bon’s knee and wonders what will become of him…]

Everyone, it seems, wants to know exactly where the bronze sculpture of Bon Scott will end up.

Forgive me if I’ve got some of the following details wrong. I’m sure it’ll all come out in the wash.

On Wednesday Simmo came to pick me up in his cream Kingswood station wagon, for another look at the statue. We drove the two blocks over to Greg’s studio, where we took some great closeup photos of Bon’s face and shoelaces and buttons and veins.

There was a definite sense of relief in the workshop. Greg was out, but one of his assistants, Alastair, told us about the week leading up to the big unveiling. Greg had been extremely anxious about the statue. More than any of the other dead-white-males he’s sculpted in bronze, the Bon Scott statue would have the eyes of a million experts scrutinising it for defects. The team put the finishing touches on the statue at midnight on Thursday. Greg looked crestfallen. “I’ve fluffed it,” he said. “I don’t know why, but it’s just not quite right.” But being made of bronze, it was too late to change anything.

On Friday morning there was a big press launch, Mark Evans was there, and Dave Evans, and Vince Lovegrove, and Angry Anderson, and others including the mayor of Fremantle, who is apparently a big Bon Scott fan. (Hopefully I will get to meet the mayor in the coming week). Only Angry Anderson was unhappy, but Alastair said that wasn’t anything to do with the statue – it was just because it was too early in the morning for him. Everyone else was “wrapped”.

As is Simmo. He feels that it’s not only a good likeness, but that the “spirit of Bon” lives in this statue. High praise indeed!

And where will the spirit of Bon finally rest? Alastair said that the latest word is that it will go somewhere around the fisherman’s wharf, where Cicerello’s and Kailis and other fishy outlets are. It’s a pleasant if somewhat touristic location, with views a bit like this. The fish’n’chip business would certainly boom as a result of all the extra visitors to Bon. But even though the wharf looks to be the most likely site, it’s not a 100% done deal.

Apparently, Bon’s final resting place has been the focus of discussion for several years, ever since Doug Thorncroft from the WA Bon Scott Fanclub first proposed the idea.

Should Bon go in the centre of Fremantle, on public land? Should he go in the park in front of the train station? Should he sit in the mall outside Myer? Where is the right spot?

Everyone had an opinion: the heritage people were worried it would attract too much traffic, which would result in damage to the surrounding built environment; or perhaps they were concerned that Bon was the wrong type of “dead white male”. A memorialised hooligan who died of alcohol poisoning would “send the wrong message”, and so his statue should not be placed in proximity to the other more “upstanding” citizens who’ve been cast in bronze around town.

Some on the council thought the bronze Bon was a boon, others a bane. The debate went around and around with no decision made, and finally the mayor had a word with the Fisherman’s Wharf people. It seems these private landowners made a gutsy unilateral decision in a flash. Council’s thousand and one stakeholders had dithered for too long.

Many people I’ve spoken to in the council and at the Fremantle Arts Centre think this is a great opportunity lost. Bon, they say, should be situated on public land, and thus be enshrined officially as a great son of Fremantle. To do so is not to condone or promote his unhealthy lifestyle, as the naysayers might have it. It is to recognise that Bon’s achievements are at least as important to the lives of local people as those of C.Y. O’Connor, Pietro Porcelli, and Maitland Brown (all of whom are already bronzified in Fremantle, the latter two also by Greg James).

But it’s not too late! Apparently the mayor has yet to sign away his life on the dotted line with Cicerello’s… Bon could roam free for some time yet before finally being bolted into place. Watch this space folks…

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