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Ballarat humanitarian to be honoured through art

The Sturt Street Gardens will soon become home to the city’s first statue created by a female artist.

Melbourne artist Lis Johnson has been selected to design and create a life-size public artwork of local humanitarian George Devine Treloar.

This will be the first new major artwork installed in the gardens in almost 20 years and the first artwork created by a female artist.

Lis was selected following an extensive tender process involving more than 20 applicants.
Lis has completed a number of significant public art commissions including five giant bronze statues that flank the Avenue of Legends on the approach to the MCG, a portrait commission of Rod Laver at Melbourne Park, and the Vietnam War Memorial of Victoria in Dandenong.

Lis’ piece for Ballarat, which will be located by the Sturt and Errard Street intersection, will feature a statue of Mr Treloar alongside an image of a Greek refugee child.

The Ballarat-born humanitarian became renowned for his work during the 1920s to resettle Greek refugees from Asia Minor following a significant humanitarian effort, and his contribution to helping improve the lives of people in the Greek community of Australia and abroad.

Treloar is the son of the owners of the first pharmacy in Ballarat, with his family name still recognised at the site of the original Bridge Mall building.

For his significant work in resettling refugees Treloar was appointed to the Order of the Redeemer, the oldest and highest decoration awarded by the modern Greek state. The Australian Greek community, and specifically the Pontic community, also acknowledge George Devine Treloar as a heroic figure in their story of migration to Australia.

Greek migration to Australia has been one of the most important migratory flows in Australian history, making the George Devine Treloar story significant not only to Ballarat, but also to Australians more broadly.

This public art project is supported by Project Merimna Pontion Kyrion of Oceania, the Central Pontian Association of Melbourne and Victoria Pontiaki Estia, The George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee and the City of Ballarat.

Lis will begin working on the statue this month, with the new statue expected to be revealed to the public by mid-2019.

This project strongly aligns with the Creative City Strategy and accompanying master plan which set a vision for new public artwork to be focussed around telling local stories.
Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said, “Australia is home to one of the world’s largest Greek communities which highlights the importance of Mr Treloar’s work, not only for Ballarat but for an entire country.

“His compassion and bravery are worthy of recognition which I hope inspires our next generation.

“Our beautiful Sturt Street Gardens has become a place of storytelling, it’s our city’s living history book which brings to life the incredible work of many locals who have contributed to the Ballarat of today – it’s the perfect place to feature this wonderful piece of public art.

“This work is a fantastic example of how our vision of becoming a leading Creative City will shift the way we plan for new public art, we want to focus more on telling those community stories.”

Chair of The George Devine Treloar Memorial Committee Litsa Athanasiadis added,
“The Committee and its supporters across Australia are glad to be joining with Ballarat City Council to honour this great humanitarian and son of Ballarat whose work saved the lives of many of our ancestors.”