Flora and Fauna in
city art and architecture
Native plants and animals have been
used to decorate items from ball gowns to city buildings. Here are some of
our favourites in the city of Perth.
Swans, pelicans and cockatoos decorate
the upper walls of Gleddon Arcade (corner Hay and William Streets, Perth).
(Above) The University of Western Australia commissioned paintings with
flora, fauna, fish and birdlife characteristic of Western Australia. The
nankeen night herons (above right) can be seen today fishing from the
river's edge along Mounts Bay Road at night.
In the good old days, when the range of available vices
were much less than today, businesses such as E.S. Lazarus of Standard
Place, Perth used to advertise on the back of Collector's cards included in
cigarette packets. This handsome swan was one in a series of 60 cards
featuring Australian birds and animals.
||Wildflowers have always been an important
tourism drawcard for Western Australia. This is the cover of a 1939
|This striking poster shows the city
menaced by a giant kangaroo paw .
This friendly Dentist's sign on Hay St is decorated with
gum leaves and flowers.
Where else would you expect to find a numbat reading a
than at the State Library.
Native animals remain popular themes
for public art in the city today, with the kangaroo perhaps just beating the
swan for popularity.
||This swan is returning to the river after
visiting the Bell Tower ...
||While this kangaroo contemplates St
||Three topiary kangaroos are emerging in
Stirling Gardens next to Council House.
Local company Pennant House have designed this lovely flag
for boats on the Swan River. Click
here to read more about the flag.
This pair of fish join a seahorse, a turtle balancing on its
back, a snake, bearded dragon lizard and other animals in the fountains
around the central pagoda in Russell Square, Northbridge. Artists Drago
Dadich and Greg James used the animals to tell a story about the history and
cultural diversity of Northbridge.
Five boomers bearing briefcases head up the Terrace.
You might think this thong a little over the top for
beachwear, but it's actually a fridge magnet complete with black swan, city
buildings and wildflowers gracing the heavens.
|The black swan reigns supreme on souvenirs with a
"Perth" theme. Kangaroo means Australia, but the Black Swan means Perth.
There is a dreamtime story of how two white swans stole
the boomerangs of eagles, and as punishment the eagles pulled out all their
beautiful white feathers and left them in the desert to die. Their blood
stained their grey bills, and crows feeling pity for the swans plucked out
their own black feathers and covered the swans in them, so that they would
never again be recognized by the eagles.
From Claire Stevenson's
Birds of Perth
Each State had its own stamps, even after Federation in 1901.
Nearly all of Western Australia's stamps, which were produced up till about
WWI featured the Swan, though only the first issue was black. The Black Swan
was also used on Duty stamps (centre) and other similar products.
Swans have been used as decoration at Parliament House. The
old carpet, shown above, was recently replaced by the design below. There
are also swans in stained glass windows and in a marquetry floor.
to John Hyde MLA and Katrina and Mark at John's office for these photos.
Window, Parliament House
Floor, Parliament House
Black Swans were sent around the world as a gift from the
people of Western Australia. These swans were sent to Winston Churchill and
lived at his country property, Chartwell, where he painted them in 1948.
Matthew Bourne's interpretation was recently seen on Perth.
Click here to read
about how swans featured in folk tales.
Following are some images from East Perth
This wooden boat on Claisebrook Cove has a water rat inside!
Artist Tony Jones
||The banksia's distinctive serrated leaves
and flowers decorate this screen at the Chinese Consulate in East Perth.
Artist Kevin Draper.
A black duck rests on the back of a bronze turtle in the lake
above Claisebrook Cove, East Perth.
Identify the five mystery swans below to be
in the running for a great prize.
Email your answers or
click here to download
a printout of the photos and clues to post in. All photos were taken in the
city of Perth, Western Australia within 2km (as the crow flies) of Council
1. This swan
can be seen if you take a cycle ride along the river.
This swan is located
in the Cityís heart on a public building.
weathered limestone carving of a swan is located between Kings Park and the
river on a culturally significant site.
tiny wooden swan is in a prominent location in the city.
metal swan swims along quite close to where the riverís edge used to be.
Email your answers or
click here to download
a printout of the photos and clues to post in.
Here's an early design for a coat of arms for Western
Australia featuring the black swan both entire and decapitated while a lady
revealing a lot of leg holds a cornucopia of wildflowers. The
latin motto "Cygnis
Insignis" meaning "distinguished by its swans" was the unofficial motto of
WA but was not included when the official design was finally approved in
And here is "cygnis insignis" on a Wembley Ware plate.
believe this is State Government crockery.
The entrance to the WA Club on St George's Terrace.
The kangaroo and emu admire the southern cross
constellation on this variation on the Australian emblem seen around town on
many heads, young and old.
The City of Perth's crest features two
swans grasping a shield. This striking version is at Council House.
Either side of the shield are Swan wings elevated
Sable, beaked and legged Gules, and gorged round the neck with a Mural Crown
Or - that is black swans with their wings raised wearing a gold
brickwork crown around their necks in the form of a collar.
The black swan is on the emblem of Hale School which
opened in 1858 at the Cloisters with 22 students. The school later moved to
Havelock St in West Perth then out to the wilds of Wembley Downs.
The Black Swan is also on the emblem of Scotch College and
Ladies' College). Both of these schools also started in the city and moved elsewhere as
This swan, which appears to be coming in to land, is on a
shield at the southern end of London Court. Most of the decorations in
London Court are rampantly British ('a richly detailed Tudor pastiche'), so
this black swan is unusual. The pose is also unusual. (Above and below)
Cast iron swans decorate the Horseshoe bridge which
connects Perth city to Northbridge (above and below). Built in 1903.
The nearby Barrack St bridge, constructed in 1894 is also decorated
with black swans. (Above and below)
This china ornament celebrated Perth's Centenary in 1929.
Lots of swans and red and green kangaroo paws were in evidence at the
bike to work breakfast on March 9th 2007, proudly proclaiming the West
Australian nature of clubs and businesses.
The swan logo shows that this company is local.
The over 55s cycle club used a red and green kangaroo paw
as the emblem for their 2004 Wildflower Tour. The members of this club are
so fit and healthy. Could it be something to do with the kangaroo paw?
WA members of the national Audax cycle club at the bike to work
breakfast had this beautiful combination of the state floral and faunal
(bird) emblem on their cycle shirts. They also looked fantastically fit and
healthy. There's something about these native flora and fauna emblems.
The Australian emblem features a
kangaroo and an emu holding a shield representing the states and
territories with a background of yellow wattle. According to folklore, the kangaroo in the emblem on the Post
Office in Forrest Place is looking over his shoulder towards the city
because the maker of the shield had not been paid for his work so he made
the kangaroo look towards those who owed him money.
This is the official WA coat of arms featuring the black
swan, two red kangaroos holding boomerangs topped by red and green kangaroo
paw flowers on either side of the royal crown.
The red and green kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos
manglesii the Western Australian floral emblem)
was featured on a stamp during the 1962 Empire and Commonwealth Games
and featured again in 2006.
and again on the front of the
Alliance's cycling shirt.
The Country Women's Association Western Australian banner.
This seat on the river, by artist Anne
Neil has a school of fish as a backrest.
Geckos surround the meteorite in Forrest Place. Artist:
The sign for this Adelaide Terrace dentist has a Western
Spinebill resting on a red and green kangaroo paw flower facing a colourful
reef fish. Quite a refreshing sight in the city centre.
These little mice have crept out of a hole in a prominent
St George's Terrace building. Not native, but I couldn't resist including
Another swan on a shirt used for a WA
Flowers and dolphins are used to decorate limestone walls
in East Perth. Dolphins are sometimes seen in the river and cove near here.
The East Perth Redevelopment Authority's swan logo tries
to fly free.
Swans seen around town (above) and floral logos (below).
in photos where you have seen native flora or fauna used in art,
architecture or decoration in Perth city.