Tortoise Tales #30 (2020)

Our tortoise inspires artists

Our iconic Western Swamp Tortoise has recently been immortalised in several artworks around Perth. Download our newsletter here.

A two-metre-tall, formed mild steel sculpture featuring six Western Swamp Tortoises in cast silicone bronze, all displayed in natural poses, has been completed by Swan Valley artist Peter Graham. It was officially  unveiled at The Margaret River Chocolate Company (5123 West Swan Road, West Swan) on Tuesday 19th November by Martin Black, part-owner of the MRCC, as a tribute to Australia’s oldest and rarest reptile.

The new sculpture at MRCC

Martin’s staff spoiled attendees with cupcakes decorated with chocolate tortoises for morning tea. The MRCC has been donating part proceeds from the sale of each box of Western Swamp Tortoise chocolates to the Friends since 2011.

Sculptor Peter said:

‘When I was first approached to create a sculpture commemorating the Western Swamp Turtle, I considered it a fantastic opportunity to help raise the profile of this endangered animal. I must admit that the words “Chocolate Factory” also caught my attention.

‘Working with the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise committee, I have constructed a representation of the turtle swimming among reeds and basking on fallen logs in its natural environment. This environment is rapidly shrinking as the brutal effects of clearing and man-induced climate change decimate wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain.

‘My work is typically a response to my appreciation of the natural world and a desire to represent and protect it.’

Elizabeth Quay Mural
Elizabeth Quay mural’s tortoise

The WST also featured in a community art project at Elizabeth Quay, where participants collaborated with artist, Mel ‘Melski’ McVee to add a giant tortoise to a mural of local flora and fauna.

Parkway Project mural

Some of our local junior members assisted artist ‘Melski’ McVee with a mural at Ellenbrook.

The Parkway Project is a temporary parkland in Ellenbrook, to be in place while Metronet’s arrival draws closer. It begins at the intersection of The Parkway and Gallery Lane, and continues along The Parkway towards Ellen Stirling Gardens.

One of the artworks is titled Western Swamp Tortoise, and was painted by Mel alongside community members, over the weekend of the 7-8 December, in a paint-by-numbers style (above).

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