Given that Matthew Flinders is largely unknown in the UK, the sculptor, Mark Richards, set out to create a work that explained who Matthew was and what he did. The statue was to be as much an introduction as it was a commemoration.
While reading and talking about Matthew, Mark was struck not so much by his representing the grand ambitions of king and country as by the day-to-day reality of his seafaring life; the discipline, organisation, unimaginable privations and determination. Aside from being ship-wrecked, starved and attacked, while charting the coast of Australia, he pursued a rigorous and monotonous daily routine for months. The now famous map progressed at a snail’s pace and with extraordinary accuracy.
Mark Richards travelled in Australia and has a brother who is a citizen there. Among the many aspects Mark admires about the Australians were the absence of stifling formality and opaque under-currents. People were pretty straight with him. Moreover, he found that taking the initiative was held in high regard.
With all this in mind, Mark Richards presents Matthew not as a distant heroic figure, but as a man among us.
Design and composition
The design shows Matthew out of official uniform and absorbed in his work charting the coastline of Australia. Leveling Matthew’s head with that of an adult viewer further enhances the informality of the composition. His cat, Trim, is by his side and this adds a slightly surreal and playful dimension to the composition
The figure composition reflects Matthew’s determination, steadfastness and dynamism.
For a more detailed explanation of how the statue was made, please visit the memorial statue blog: http://flindersstatue.blogspot.co.uk