A New Statue for Linton Coming to Life

Linton Statue Art Studio Visit
Arts, Culture & Heritage
Media Release

Last week, Golden Plains Shire Mayor Cr Gavin Gamble visited the art studio of Lucy McEachern with representatives of the Linton community to see the progress of a new public artwork to recognise Dr Vera Scantlebury OBE.

The artwork, a 1.75m bronze sculpture of Linton-born war surgeon and Director of Infant and Maternal Health, Dr Vera Scantlebury OBE, is funded by $116,811 from the Victorian Government’s Victorian Women’s Public Art Program with an additional $39,575 (including $9,680 in-kind) contribution from Council. 

Artist Lucy McEachern has created a clay version of the statue, which is now ready to be sent to a foundry where it will be enlarged as a 3D printed replica and the face, hands and feet of the statue will be modelled from plasticine. The full-size statue will then be poured in bronze, ready for installation in the historic township of Linton. 

The artwork will be sited in the memorial Avenue of Honour and sit opposite an existing memorial of men who served in World War 1, becoming the first public artwork in the township recognising or representing women. 

The statue will recognise the contributions of Dr Vera Scantlebury OBE who, born in 1889, was the daughter of local Linton GP, Dr George Scantlebury, and the former Linton postmistress, Catherine Baynes. Vera completed her medical degree at the University of Melbourne in 1913 and wanted to contribute her skills to the war effort. However, as female doctors were not accepted in the Australian Army, she had to pay her own way to England to join the British Army, where female doctors were permitted to work. Although, they were not given official enlistment status nor allowed to wear the insignia of rank. For two years, Vera worked as a surgeon in a London military hospital treating injured soldiers being sent over from France.

When Vera returned home to Australia after the war, she became the first Director of the Victorian Infant Welfare Scheme. This was a ground-breaking role which saw her caring for the health and wellbeing of babies and mothers for decades to come.

In 1938, her contribution to the field of infant and maternal health was officially recognised with an OBE. She transformed a voluntary system into the professional statewide and universal one we have today. Vera died in 1946 from breast cancer.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Women and Education, the Hon Natalie Hutchins MP:

“I’m proud to see the Victorian Women’s Public Art Program supporting local artist Lucy McEachern to create a lasting monument of Dr Vera Scantlebury OBE - a remarkable Victorian woman - who was critical through wartime, and championed infant and maternal health. 

“For far too long, women have been underrepresented in public places. Our Government’s program is making sure women’s economic, social, and cultural achievements that have been downplayed for centuries are recognised and celebrated as they deserve."

Quotes attributable to Golden Plains Shire Mayor Cr Gavin Gamble:

“It's exciting and gratifying to see this piece of public artwork coming to life. This project has been driven by the community and the Linton Historical Society, and local Golden Plains artist Lucy McEachern has been entrusted with making their vision a reality. Everyone present was very impressed with the quality of Lucy's work and we look forward to the completion of the statue in bronze.

“This sculpture will be a valuable addition to the historic Linton township and is an important step towards recognising more women in public artwork across the Shire. Council is pleased to be supporting this project and helping to highlight Vera’s incredible story.”

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