A long-term resident of Roleystone, sculptor Thomas Gerard Darwin has passed away in Rossmoyne following complications after a recent fall. He was a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and produced numerous commissioned works in Australia, England, Africa and Asia during his lifetime.
Affectionately known as Gerry to his friends, he was born in 1928 in Lancashire, UK. At the age of 14 he entered the Mill Hill seminary where he studied to be a priest. During this time he developed a keen interest in art and found his niche in sculpture. Before taking his final vows in the priesthood, he decided to leave, and shortly afterwards entered National Service. He later married Agnes and moved to Kenya in East Africa where he lectured in art and craft at a teacher training college. During his seven years in Africa he produced many sculptural works carved from stone.
Back in England he explored sculptural techniques before immigrating with his family to Perth in 1977, building a home and studio in Roleystone. For the next 30 years he worked prolifically, sculpting many notable people as well as creating religiously-themed works for the Archdiocese of Perth and other cities around Australia.
His most notable works include Queen Labotzebeni of Swaziland, commissioned by her son King Sobhuza. His works also include a bust of Saint Pope John Paul ll and Saint Mother Teresa, both located at St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth. A bust of Sir Norman Brearley, produced in 1986, was modelled at Brearley’s home in Dalkeith and also at Darwin’s Roleystone studio. Brearley was the first licensed pilot in Australia and started the first airline in Australia – West Australian Airways. One of his employees was Charles Kingsford-Smith. The work is located at Perth International Airport.
In 2008 he was commissioned to produce a bust of Australia’s first canonised Saint Mary MacKillop. In Sydney the same year he had the pleasure of meeting Pope Benedict shortly after the Pope unveiled the bust. A copy of the bust was produced for the Vatican collection, where he already had other work.
The following year his eyesight began to slowly succumb to macular degeneration. Despite this, he produced his last notable sculpture of the full 14 Stations of the Cross for the newly renovated St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth. Fittingly, his funeral mass is to be held at St Mary’s Cathedral, celebrated by Emeritus Archbishop Hickey, at 9.45am on Thursday 10 December, where some of his most notable works are located.
A family connection to St Mary’s Cathedral has continued with his daughter, artist Camilla Loveridge, donating a painting Over Jerusalem. Loveridge was also curator of the Mandorla Art Award in 2010 and 2012 and was a highly commended winner in 2016. An art and religious connection continues with Camilla’s daughter Ruth, a previous winner of the Black Swan Youth Portraiture Prize and the Angelico Art Award, and participating artist in the Year 12 Perspectives exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA.
Works by Gerry Darwin.