Posted on 08 March 2015.
With the centenary of the ANZAC landing just six weeks away, a people’s request for a portrait of Victoria Park’s first mayor, who was killed during an epic battle at Gallipoli, has been recommended for refusal.
Captain Robert McMaster (pictured) was a decorated soldier, and architect of some of Perth’s finest Federation-era buildings.
After becoming the first mayor of Victoria Park in 1897, he commanded the second Western Australian contingent in the Boer War and later received the Queen’s and King’s South Africa medals for his efforts.
Then, in 1914, Captain McMaster understated his age by five years to sign up to World War I – at the age of 48.
KILLED IN ACTION
He was one of 80 men from the 10th Light Horse killed in action in August 1915 at The Battle of the Nek, which was graphically portrayed in the climax of the Peter Weir film Gallipoli.
As an architect, Captain McMaster designed some of Perth’s finest buildings, including the ground floor of Cottesloe mansion Tukurua, a stretch of Central Arcade in the Perth CBD, and in Victoria Park the Broken Hill Hotel (pictured).
To honour the skill and sacrifice of Captain McMaster in the Gallipoli centenary year, the annual general meeting of Victoria Park electors late last year passed a motion that the council commission a portrait of him.
But now, in a report to her political masters, Town of Victoria Park executive manager Jude Thomas has recommended against a portrait of Captain McMaster.
“The commissioning of a mayoral portrait of Captain Robert McMaster is not preferred, as it raises equity issues with regards to the five other mayors who served the Victoria Park Municipal Council, as well as the chairmen of the Victoria Park Roads Board District,” Ms Thomas opines.
“Furthermore, commissioning a portrait based on a small, black and white photograph limits the opportunity for an artist to capture the essence of the individual.”
Nor has the town budgeted for a portrait, which Ms Thomas estimates would cost between $2000 and $10,000 to commission.
Ms Thomas considers that photographs of Captain McMaster, and all his mayoral successors, would be a “dignified, respectful and cost-effective response”.
She has recommended that a photographic wall of fame picturing all mayors up to the most recent two be established instead, at a cost of about $3000 to appear in next year’s council budget.
Captain McMaster already has a street in Victoria Park named after him.
But current mayor Trevor Vaughan and his predecessor, the late Mick Lee, are the only Victoria Park mayors to have portraits hanging at the council’s Shepperton Road HQ.
Mr Vaughan and his councillor colleagues are slated to debate Ms Thomas’ recommendation of refusal at a council meeting on Tuesday night.
Photo of Captain McMaster from The Cyclopedia of Western Australia.
Photo of The Broken Hill Hotel by ‘Zamphour’, Wikimedia Commons.