Dream come true

BOWRAL'S Mary Poppins statue may still only be a plasticine model, but she is already having an effect on people.

Melissa McShane's Mary Poppins dream for the Highlands is nearing its reality. 	Photo supplied

Melissa McShane's Mary Poppins dream for the Highlands is nearing its reality. Photo supplied

"We made a pact that we weren't going to cry, but she is just beautiful," project coordinator Paul McShane said.

"She is an amazing sight."

Mr McShane and his daughter Melissa visited the sculptor Tanya Bartlett in Newcastle last week to view the statue before moulds were taken for the bronzing process.

"The statue is being made using the lost-wax method, which dates back to ancient Greece," Mr McShane said.

This is a detailed process involving melted wax coating the mould, which when hardened is used as the base for a silicon mould. The wax then melts away (hence the name 'lost-wax') leaving a mould ready for the bronzing stage.

One benefit of this method is that the original model remains.

"We had initially hoped that the statue would be in New York, so who knows - down the track if they change their mind we'll be ready to help them," Mr McShane said.

The life-size statue is not as detailed as the maquette because the sculptor wanted it to retain a "story-book quality".

"Tanya wanted to try to retain an element of the mystical and what was conveyed by the character in the Mary Shephard illustrations of the original books. She believes too much detailing will remove that sense of the magical from the figure."

However, one important detail will not be lost: one local primary school child will find out in the next couple of weeks that their design has been included on Mary Poppin's carpet bag, complete with their initials.

"One day that child will bring their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to see it," Mr McShane said.

The Mary Poppins Birthpplace Statue project is valued at $95,000 and is supported by a $26,400 Federal Government T-QUAL grant.

The rest of the cost was met by community fundraising including the sale of 25 limited edition statuettes sold to collectors throughout Australia, the USA and the UK.

However, Mr McShane said the project still needed support with six statuettes valued at a total $6600 still available and currently on exhibition at the Milk Factory Gallery in Bowral.

"We have plans for the area in which the statue will be placed, and we would like to hear from concreters and landscapers who would like to help out."

The plan is for the statue to be unveiled towards the end of this year.

Mr McShane gave a number of reasons why it was important for Mary Poppins to be in place before 2014.

"2014 is the 90th anniversary year of PL Travers leaving Australia for the UK; the 80th anniversary since the publication of the first book; 50 years since the Disney movie; 20 years since Patricia Feltham first visited Bowral to tell us of the connection; 10 years for both the opening of the West End stage show that has now toured the world; 10 years since the Mary Poppins BOOKtrail at the Australian Festival of the Book in Bowral; and 10 years since Melissa McShane as a 12 year-old first suggested the Mary Poppins statue in the children's civic design competition run by Wingecarribee Council.

"That makes it a 'practically perfect' year for our Mary Poppins to debut for the world I think."


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