It was 20 years ago when Riverton artist (and well-known Australian realist artist), Robert ‘Alfie’ Hannaford AM approached the then Riverton Council to create a statue to honour the traditional Ngadjuri landowners.
The statue was officially unveiled on Saturday in front of a strong crowd in Riverton’s Main Street.
The statue presents to people a woman holding a child, but it means far more than this: the mother represents the earth, while the child represents the opportunity earth has given us.
Throughout his life, Mr Hannaford has spent countless hours researching the lives of the Ngadjuri people who spent thousands of years in the area before we.
He learnt about the Ngadjuri people from a young age and spent time in the Belvidere Hills – a place where many Ngadjuri people would have also spent time, well before crops were planted, fences built and settlements established.
His need to research and learn more about the people led to him developing the sculpture.
Mr Hannaford said he was intrigued by what the Ngadjuri people must have known, the things that we turned a blind eye to.
“...my sculpture is what hopefully will stand as a reminder of the people who were here and what they experienced,” Mr Hannaford said.
His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC Governor of South Australia unveiled the statue and spoke in awe of the work by Mr Hannaford.
His Excellency said he was pleased to be in Riverton unveiling a statue by one of his favourite Australian artists.
“I’m so pleased to be here in Riverton to unveil the sculpture which honours the Ngadjuri culture of the area,” His Excellency said.
He felt the statue would be an important catalyst in moving forward, honouring and remembering the traditional owners of the area.
Ian Rohde OAM, was on Riverton’s council when the idea first propped up.
“I was always intrigued of Robert’s interest with this tribe of Aboriginals,” Mr Rohde OAM said.
Thanks to the Chris Turner Bequest and a generous donation was made by Mr Rohde, the project was able to be complete.
Mr Rohde said council always supported the idea and he was glad he could finally say it was complete.
The audience also heard from two of the Ngadjuri community members, including Vince Coply (one of the committee members who endorsed the sculpture).
Vince said he hoped this would be the beginning of two cultures coming together to promote the Ngadjuri people.
Riverton is the beginning of the Ngadjuri land and this statue, in Riverton’s Main St, will be the first visible sign of Ngadjuri people being in this area.
Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council Mayor Allan Aughey OAM welcomed the audience and paid his respects to the traditional land owners.
He also publicly declared his love of Mr Hannaford’s work, saying he was his favourite artist.
Mr Aughey welcomed all guests to the unveiling and thanked the turnout of the audience for such a special event.