Pioneering civic leader to be immortalised in bronze

30 Aug 2019

A bronze statue paying homage to Australia’s first female Lord Mayor will take pride of place in front of the former Civic Station in the heart of Newcastle as part of ongoing revitalisation works.

The late Joy Cummings AM will become one of the only women in NSW to be immortalised in bronze, and the first person in Newcastle to be bestowed the honour.

The statue is currently being developed by Mudgee sculptor Margot Stephens, who was selected by the City of Newcastle following a call to the artistic community to design a statue of the former Lord Mayor.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the statue was a fitting piece of public art for Newcastle’s civic heart.

“I’m proud to announce that City of Newcastle will immortalise the progressive and transformational leader Joy Cummings OAM through the city’s first true-to-scale, bronze statue,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Joy was a trailblazer for women in leadership and inspired Novocastrians through her community spirit and love for our great city and our people.

“It’s fitting that Joy’s pioneering legacy will be able to be showcased in such an amazing and enduring way.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, daughter Margaret Badger echoed the Lord Mayor’s sentiments and said if Joy were alive today, she’d be proud of the City that Newcastle has become.

“I think she’ll enjoy looking over what’s happening throughout the City,” Margaret said.

“This statue captures everything about her, her smile, the determined line between her brows, her outward reaching hand and the other hand close to her heart. It’s very symbolic of all that she was, an outward looking, proud, caring person.

“We’ll always be proud of mum’s achievements. It’s easy to forget today that Newcastle was a heavy industry town, a BHP town. We had the state dockyard and abattoirs, we were quite an industrious place, but mum still had a passion for greening projects and parks.

“She was also very big on heritage, liked the concept of light rail, and would be very supportive of any activity that brought people to live and work in the City.”

She also said Joy would have been proud to be looking back over to the Civic Theatre, which she helped save for live performances.

Margot Stephens said she was honoured to be selected to create the sculpture.

“Being selected to create the final piece has been an incredible privilege,” she said. “To work on the portrait of such an intelligent, courageous and determined woman has been inspirational.”

The latest tribute to Joy Cummings will be delivered to the forecourt of the new ‘Museum Place’ by the end of the year.

Joy served as Lord Mayor between 1974 and 1984 and was aged 79 when she died in July 2003.