A museum piece stored and forgotten in the Netherlands for decades has been revealed as a key part of Albury’s best-known aviation story.
The bronze and marble statuette held by the Amsterdam Museum turned out to be a 1935 gift from the people of Albury in memory of the Dutch aeroplane they had rescued the previous year, the Uiver.
But over the years, knowledge of its past diminished and it was eventually catalogued only under the terms statuette and lion.
Uiver historian Noel Jackling, whose efforts helped uncover the work, said “the curator in 1967 added the following, ‘Regarding the provenance of this statue has been found nothing so far’”.
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Mr Jackling, writing in the latest edition of Victorian Historical Journal, said the piece’s location was discovered in July when the present museum curator was told of the missing Uiver statuette and “immediately recognised it as an object held in their enormous storage depot, an object with no known provenance”.
On Monday night Albury’s councillors agreed unanimously to request a staff report into the cost and feasibility of having the Amsterdam Museum produce for Albury Library Museum a full-size replica of the Montford Uiver Albury Flight Memorial.
Mr Jackling said Albury residents raised 150 pounds in early 1935 and sculptor Paul Montford, known for his work on Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, was commissioned to create the memorial.
Features include a young draped figure and a crowned lion, representing Australia and the Netherlands respectively, God Speed inscribed on the base and an image of people trying to pull a bogged Uiver from the Albury racecourse mud.
Montford, realising a tight deadline meant the people of Albury wouldn’t see the finished product, made a similar, but not identical, plaster statuette to give to the Border town.
This plaster version also went missing for many years, but was recovered and donated anonymously to Albury Council last year.
Mr Jackling said it appeared four years ago the two Montford statuettes might be lost forever .
“Now both have been recovered and in due course will again be on public display, thus restoring our corporate memory of the Uiver and also of Paul Montford, as well as recovering aspects of our shared Australian–Dutch cultural heritage,” he said.
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