• Charles Dickens Statue in Centennial Park History and Heritage

    The lighter (and more serious) side of Mr Dickens

 

Here’s a fact many people are not aware of – Centennial Park features one of only three life sized statues in the world of British author Charles Dickens!

Dickens himself never visited Australia (although he was planning a lecture tour in 1862) but there are strong Dickens/Australia connections:

  • he mentioned Australia, transportation and middle-class settlement in the colony in a number of his writings;
  • he reportedly based a number of characters in his novels on Australian colonial notables;
  • he was in letter-writing contact with Sir Henry Parkes; and
  • two of Dickens’ sons emigrated to Australia (one son, Edward, even went on to be a Member of Parliament in the NSW Legislative Assembly).

The story of how the Dickens statue ended up in Centennial Park (its subsequent disappearance, public hunt and restoration) makes a great read.

 

Ongoing inspiration

Not only Dickens the man inspires many, but now the statue itself has inspired this ABC-TV promotion running on ABC2…

 

 

The best of times…

Since the statue was restored and returned to Centennial Park in 2011, an annual celebration tradition has developed. Every 7 February (Dickens’ birthday) the NSW Dickens Society gathers beneath the statue in the Park and celebrates the books and other works of Dickens (see example here).

 

…but the worst of times

While we greatly value having the statue amongst our collection, unfortunately not everyone has been respecting our global treasure. In early February 2016 the statue suffered a graffiti attack, with someone scaling up and scrawling words in black ink on Dickens left cheek.

 

After an attempted cleaning, the black ink graffiti has stained the marble and is visible on Dickens' cheek

After an attempted cleaning, the black ink graffiti has stained the marble and is visible on Dickens’ cheek

 

With the ink having stained the marble, we had to engage a specialist marble cleaner

With the ink having stained the marble, we had to engage a specialist marble cleaner

 

The good news is the ink was successfully cleaned off, but we would like to remind visitors that many of our statues are historic, and some fragile, so please do not climb on them, and certainly please do not graffiti them!

 

The last word…

We would like to finish with a reminder of what is most important about Dickens, the statue and Centennial Park – and nothing is more appropriate than finishing with words from Dickens himself:

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress. – Charles Dickens.

We’d like to think that Dickens was envisioning a place like Centennial Park when he wrote those words. Nature and beauty. Just take an early morning walk past his statue in Centennial Park one morning and we think you’ll agree!

 

The Charles Dickens statue in Centennial Park

The Charles Dickens statue in Centennial Park

 

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