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Mary Gilbert Memorial

Ailsa O'Connor
Cement fondue bust
Conservatory, Fitzroy Gardens

Ailsa O'Connor studied at RMIT and worked as a painter and then draughtsperson before taking up sculpture full time in the 1970s. Throughout her life, she was active in a number of organisations that sought to achieve equality for women, such as the Women's Progressive Movement.

O'Connor's interest in feminism and women's history is apparent in this work, which in part carries the inscription: 'Mary gave birth to a son, the first white child born in the Port Phillip settlement, on 29 December 1835. As servants of John Pascoe Fawkner, Mary and her husband James Gilbert were in the original party of settlers who landed from the schooner Enterprise on 30 August 1835.' O'Connor claimed of Mary Gilbert that she was a 'sort of proletarian founding mother'.

The bust was exhibited in 1975 and subsequently purchased by the City of Melbourne. The Lady Mayoress Barbara Walker unveiled it on 26 November 1975.

City Of Melbourne