History cast in bronze

A two metre tall bronze statue of the fictional character Mary Poppins - that was once to stand in New York Central Park - will be erected in the Southern Highlands.

The unveiling of the statue on Sunday, Decem-ber 8, at the Bradman Cen-tre is part of the sesqui centenary celebrations.

Inspiration for the life-sized sculpture came from a sketch by British sculptor Sean Crampton that was uncovered during research by local resident, Paul McShane.

An article in the New York Times in 1966 noted that the statue was to stand in the Conservatory Lake area near 72nd Street, but plans were later rejected by the Parks Department.

Mr McShane had worked with his daughter, Melissa McShane, over the last decade researching the birth of the magical nanny Poppins and her creator, Pamela Lyndon Travers (P.L Travers).

Mr McShane said during the process of their research they came across Cramp-ton's sketch and found it added another layer to the mystery of Travers and her creation of the Poppins character.

"Travers had put in an application to the New York council to get the statue in Central Park, but it wasn't approved," Mr McShane said.

"We managed to get in contact with Crampton's widower, (Patricia Cramp-ton) who remembered the story like it was yesterday and told us that her husband had been a good friend of Travers.

"The sketch is now the inspiration for the final sculpture and members of the Crampton family are flying over to Australia to attend the launch in December."

Cramptons daughter, Harriet and grand daughter, Rose will be coming to the Highlands from the United Kingdom to see the sculpture erected.

Mr McShane and Melissa set up the Mary Poppins Birthplace Campaign in 2009, which helped to raise almost $100,000 to build the monument.

Mr McShane said the sculpture was a "gift" to the Highlands community and tells a story of great inspiration and accomplishment.

"As just a young girl from a small country town, she managed to obtain her big dreams," he said.

"It's great for our local youth arts groups to know that dreams are never too big."

"People will be able to look at the statue and say to themselves anything is possible."

Research indicated that Mary Poppins was originally created by Travers as she huddled around a fire place in her family home on Holly Street in Bowral.

During a wild storm, Travers (then 11-years-old) told her two younger siblings a story of a magical white horse that ran underground and came back as Mary Poppins.

This was recollected by Travers in two separate interviews in 1977 and 1988.

Much of the research conducted by Paul and Melissa had come off the back of a biography by Valerie Lawson: Out of the Sky She Came: the life of P.L Travers creator of Mary Poppins.

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