A bronze statue honouring Sir James Martin, philhellene and one of the founding fathers of the modern Australian state of New South Wales, has been relocated to a more ‘fitting’ permanent new site in the very heart of the City of Parramatta.
Together with the Premier of NSW Dominic Perrottet, City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis joined Lysicrates Foundation co-founders John and Patricia Azarias in a ceremony yesterday that acknowledged the statue’s new home.
“It is incredibly fitting that the statue of Sir James Martin be positioned at the start of what will become the Civic Link, Council’s visionary green pedestrian link between Parramatta Square and Parramatta River, with the backdrop of our modern and vibrant CBD,” said Cr Davis.
The statue now erected in Parramatta Square is one of a pair crafted by sculptor Alan Somerville, with its partner sitting in Sydney’s Martin Place, so named also in honour of Sir James Martin.
The statue depicts the former three time Premier of NSW, Attorney-General and Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court Treasurer Sir James Martin as a boy.
It was originally unveiled by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet in 2017 more than a century after his death.
The son of a horse groom from Parramatta, the young James Martin famously did whatever it took to get an education at what would later become Sydney Grammar, including even walking and hitching the 20 kilometres from home to school because his family couldn’t afford to live nearby.
There he acquired a love of classics and an affinity with Greek and Latin that lasted his lifetime and was eternalised in his replica of the ancient Athenian Lysicrates Monument, erected in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, Australia in 1968, which Martin built with his own money. The beautiful replica is still standing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney today.
The bronze statue embodies James Martin "12 years old, striding off from home in Parramatta to high school in Sydney," as the sculpture's plaque reads.
"Raised in servant's quarters, this Irish-born boy overcame poverty and discrimination to become Premier and Chief Justice of NSW."
In his statue, James Martin holds an open book with the word 'Homer' inscribed on it, in reference to the legendary Greek poet to whom the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey is attributed.
“He left an indelible mark on our city, our State and our nation, all of which explains why Martin Place bears his name, but few know anything about the man one of our most well-known city locations is named after,” Mr Perrottet has said previously.
“He believed passionately in the idea of Australia as a self-sufficient nation and he championed education for all — especially disadvantaged kids — because he knew from experience that education unlocks opportunity.”
The campaign to install the memorial was driven by passionate Sydneysiders John and Patricia Azarias, receiving support from all sides of politics including former Shadow Treasurer for NSW, Walt Secord.
“Thanks to the efforts of John and Patricia and support on both sides of the political divide, James Martin’s story won’t be lost to history and will serve as a constant reminder of what can be achieved through hard work and determination.”
“James Martin’s story is one of steely determination and focus on the future that I believe can inspire a generation of young people,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We can’t know where we’re going as a society unless we know where we’ve come from, and this statue is a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made for the prosperity we have today.”