The Gaurdian Newspapers coverage of Julie Gough's artwork Breathing Space
A statue of a Tasmanian colonist has been covered up. Should it ever return?
A large bronze statue of a noble-looking white man stands in a park in central nipaluna/Hobart. Adjacent to the city’s bus mall, it honours William Lodewyk Crowther, a doctor and early premier of Tasmania.
Crowther is praised on the accompanying plaque for his “long and zealous political and professional service in this colony.” But the plaque makes no mention of William Lanne, the palawa leader whose corpse he mutilated and skull he stole.
Julie Gough, a trawlwoolway artist from northern lutruwita/Tasmania, has encased the statue in darkened plywood and added her own words to the plinth: “We do not have to look into the face of evil to know that it is there.”
Gough’s work is called Breathing Space. It is the third of four artist installations responding to the statue as part of the Hobart city council’s Crowther Reinterpretation Project, which began in April. Each work, either on or near the statue, stays in place for two months: an attempt to engage the public in a conversation about the statue and what to do with it next. Remove it? Preserve it? Amend the plinth’s wording, recontextualising it – or perhaps add a second piece nearby that tells a fuller story?
Gough says she just wants it gone, and quickly.
“I decided to encase Crowther, to give everyone literally ‘breathing space’ from his presence,” Gough said of her work. “To be able to literally see a way forward, a world without it, by physically demonstrating that the sky doesn’t fall down, the world doesn’t end, when a statue is removed.