A WORKING group will be formed to come up with a concept for a statue of Captain Matthew Flinders and his cat Trim to be erected in Port Lincoln.

The group of council staff, councillors and community members will also look at redeveloping existing Matthew Flinders memorabilia on Tasman Terrace and explore potential funding options for the project.

The council endorsed the project this week, with a view to starting it in 2014, which will be the 200th anniversary of Captain Flinders’ death.

Councillor Rod Patterson is pushing the project recognising the explorer’s significance to the Port Lincoln community.

Mr Patterson said other sea ports around Australia were also planning commemorations, including statues, to coincide with the bicentenary.

“But … no sea port in Australia reserves the special relationship we in Port Lincoln share with Captain M Flinders RN, and his birthplace in Lincoln, or Donnington, to be precise.”

Mr Patterson said the proposed project fitted with the city’s Public Art Strategy.

“Given the time since our last major acquisition under the banner of ‘public art’, Makybe Diva, it is probably timely that we fund another worthy contribution to our city.”

Councillor Neville Starke questioned the cost of the project and raised concerns about setting a precedent for statues of other historic figures with connections to the region such as explorer Edward John Eyre, the father of the Australia wheat industry William Farrer and fishing industry identities like Dinko Lukin.

Councillor Travis Rogers said a statue of Matthew Flinders was probably overdue and, as for other historic figures, they could be honoured in many different ways.

“I believe this could kick start our public art strategy,” Mr Rogers said.

The council’s chief executive officer, Rob Donaldson, said the fist step would be to come up with a concept because it would be impossible to estimate a cost without a concept.

Mayor Bruce Green said by endorsing the project the council was not committing to funding it and he suggested any council contribution would be a small percentage of the overall cost, as had been the case with the Makybe Diva statue.

Mr Patterson would also like to see the existing Matthew Flinders memorabilia in a laneway between Civic Hall and the Civic Centre on Tasman Terrace refurbished and possibly moved to a more visible location.

“Consider, we build a couple of suitable stone pillars on the pavement near the city end of the zebra crossing in Tasman Terrace – not more than just a few metres in front of where the arch currently sits.

“With an angle grinder and a big enough forklift, one could free the arch from its extant supports and place it on top of our new sandstone pillars.

“In this location, not only is it more visible to tourists, but, it could be viewed from both sides.

“Given that we’ve relocated the arch and given that we’ve probably re-located the two brass plaques onto the new sandstone pillars, it could be a logical spot to place a statute of our man, complete with his cat.”

Mr Patterson believes a “people friendly” statue would be a tourist drawcard providing photo opportunities like the popular Makybe Diva statue.

Councillor Rod Patterson is pushing a project to recognise explorer Matthew Flinders’ significance to the Port Lincoln community.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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