Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Back in mid-October 2007, the Perth City Council unveiled Eliza, a bronze statue of a female diver poised a few metres offshore in the Swan River. She commemorates the long-lost Crawley Baths, and reflects a lauadable commitment to public art from the Council.

Eliza with unveiling models, who have since either died of starvation and fallen off or gone home.

As I drove past her every day on my way to work, I thought it'd be cool to swim out there and give her a bikini to wear. Public art is often more fun when the public make their own contributions to it.

But other minds, inside brains attached to bodies that owned boats and a bit of spare cash, were thinking along the same lines. She lasted barely a fortnight before she'd been dolled up in a party frock, a hat and a glass of champagne for the Melbourne Cup on 6 November.

All dressed up and nowhere to go, thanks to being made of bronze and welded to a plinth.

After Cup Day her attire was removed, either by the perpetrators or by the authorities. But as December rolled around she was festooned with tinsel and baubles for the Christmas Season... then a skimpy pink number for the New Years Celebration... and now a green and gold bikini, an Australian flag cape and a big inflatable Aussie flag novelty glove in preparation for Australia Day on 26 January. Frankly she seems to have a more active social calendar than many humans.

I think it's great that she's been embraced so quickly by the locals, and that the authorities are allowing her to be embraced. She's well on her way to becoming an institution - not bad for a girl who's only been there three months.


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