34. Pietro Giacomo Porcelli (1872-1943), sculptor
Pietro Giacomo Porcelli was born in Bisceglie, Bari, Italy. His family migrated to Australia and Pietro Porcelli studied at the New South Wales Academy of Art. He later returned to Naples to study sculpture and drawing with D’Orsi, the President of the Royal Academy. On completion of formal studies he came to Perth with his father Leonard, and lived in Henry Street, Fremantle.
His first commissioned work was the life-sized bust of Sir John Forrest, situated at the main entrance of Parliament House. He also created the full-sized statue of Alexander Forrest, Sir John Forrest’s brother and a great surveyor and explorer, which stands at the entrance to the Supreme Court Gardens.
Porcelli created many impressive statues which are still seen today in prominent locations around the State. His crowning achievement is considered to be the peace memorial at the Midland Junction Railway Workshop. Other commissions included the C.Y. O’Connor bust at Mundaring Weir and the heroic statue of C.Y. O’Connor at Fremantle Harbour.
Pietro Porcelli married Martha Goodwin in 1910 and had a son and daughter. He moved to Melbourne in the 1920s and in those years worked on carving the twelve panels for the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance. He returned to Perth in 1939.
In the 1980s, Giuseppe Rispoli, a friend of Porcelli and Founder of the Porcelli Memorial Fund, proposed that a statue of the sculptor be commissioned by the Italian community in honour of his memory and his creative artistry. The bronze statue was sculpted by Greg James and erected in the square near the Fremantle Town Hall in 1993.