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Call to rebuild lost tribute to Colonel William Light


An Adelaide conservationist has proposed rebuilding a gothic structure once dedicated to Colonel Light in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of South Australia’s founding in 1836.


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Senior Objects Conservator at Artlab Australia Justin Gare last night proposed to the Governor of South Australia and the public the rebuilding of the Colonel William Light monument on Adelaide’s North Terrace but rededicating it to the Kaurna people.

The original monument was built in 1842 in Light Square after the death of the first Surveyor-General to the Colony of South Australia in 1839.

Col Light’s deputy, Sir George Strickland Kingston, volunteered to design and build the monument after Light died and erected a 14-meter-high tower with five walls and gothic fixtures in Light Square in his honour.

However, the monument was made out of weak sandstone, and due to deterioration it was demolished in 1904.

Gare proposed the idea, accompanied by a scaled model of the monument, in the foyer of Artlab Australia, the state agency specialising in the preservation and conservation services for works of art and historic items.

“There was a lot of interest in the structure,” said Gare.

“So far it’s just the beginning of an idea, but at least I’m bold enough to put it out there.”

His wooden replica of the monument is 1/10 of the original size, but true to the original designs.

“The only difference is that I made mine out of timber, but it’s the same five-sided structure with lot of the decorative carvings and croquettes,” Gare said.

He made the mock-up after his son Liam, a computer animator at Rising Sun Pictures, pulled measurements from vintage photographs to provide blueprints.

Picture courtesy State Library of South Australia PRG 280/1/17/88.

“All that exists now are the photographs and no architectural drawings,” said Gare.

“I gave him some scales, and because he’s a computer animator he reworked the plans. From that I made the wooden model.”

Gare said he wants a team of skilled stonemasons to rebuild the tribute by 2036, which would coincide with 200 years of South Australian colonial history.

“That original structure was important because it’s symbolic of the setup of South Australia by two men: Kingston and Light,” he said.

“But I also want the new monument to be re-dedicated to the traditional custodians of the land, the Kaurna people, plus the Old Colonists of the South Australian Association and the early pioneering settlers.

“I didn’t get a chance to talk to the Governor [of South Australia] before he left but The Pioneers Association of South Australia said they were very interested.

“As this project progresses I’m looking for more public feedback.”

Gare is looking at a mix of Government, private and public funding, as well as corporate sponsorship, to pay for the project he estimates would cost somewhere in the millions.

“This project will be a long slog,” Gare said.

“The next step is pretty vague in terms of planning or funding but this is a real dream of mine.

“The bicentenary is in 17 years but it’s good to get the idea out now because there will be a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through and money to raise.”

The replica of the monument is on public display at Artlab Australia at 70 Kintore Avenue for the duration of South Australia’s History Festival.

The festival runs until 31 May and promotes the state’s collections, places and stories through a range of history-related activities.

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