Long Lens on Yagan

You have to feel sorry for Yagan’s statue, almost as much as for the fellow himself. Famously the statue suffered decapitations twice. I don’t think the reasons were really discovered, or the severed heads and, as far as I know, the head choppers were never caught. Oddly the best view of the crimes would have been from Police Headquarters. The artist recreated the heads, but they changed a little each time. There were complaints at the time that the last one looked a lot like Ridge Forrester from The Bold and the Beautiful. This part of Heirisson Island is now fenced off, and I don’t think you can access Yagan with an angle grinder anymore. Just a continuation of the sad story of the bloke. This is as close as I could get from across the river. If the decapitator is out there, how about a shot of just one of the chopped heads? Please. You sound like a TWOP reader to me. According to the wikipaedia entry, the real head of Yagan, remains unburied too. A little birdy sent me a pic of Yagan with his original head with a couple of unknown young punks. No wonder they fenced him off. I finally got my chance to pixellate some faces too.


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About AHC McDonald

Comedian, artist, photographer and critic. From 2007 to 2017 ran the culture and satire site The Worst of Perth
This entry was posted in worst art, worst public art, worst sculpture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Long Lens on Yagan

  1. Frank Calabrese says:

    I believe their was a spat between rival traditional owners over the location of the rest of Yagan’s body, hence the delay in reburying his head, as well as issues over which lot of decendents had the actual authority to do the ceremony etc.

    The whole saga is the similar to The Bold And The Beautiful – in regards of relationships etc.


  2. Frank Calabrese says:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that despite and expensive scientific search of the Swan Valley area where Yagan was supposed to have lived has failed to find the rest of his body.


    • Frank Calabrese says:


      Yagan’s Head to be buried in a Memorial Park in Belhus.

      More than 170 years after his death, the head of the Noongar warrior, Yagan, will be buried at a memorial park in the Swan Valley.

      The Department of Indigenous Affairs has given the City of Swan more than $500,000 to develop the park in his honour.

      Yagan’s head was severed in Belhus, near Upper Swan, in 1833.

      It was preserved and later sent to Great Britain as an artefact.

      The head was returned to WA in 1997 and will finally be buried at the Swan Valley site.

      The Yagan Memorial Park will be open to the public.



  3. So the real head is now where Frank? I always think “poor bastard” when I hear the name Yagan. The statue stuff just seems appropriate to the whole sad story.


  4. Frank Calabrese says:

    The Real head is sitting in a Bank vault .


    Apparently there was a real bitchfight between rival groups of elders over who had ancestral rights etc.

    Wikipedia article on Alston’s Cartoon at the time.



  5. Frank Calabrese says:

    And here is the proper Wikipedia entry for Yagan.



  6. Frank Calabrese says:

    oh and I just noticed Lazy Aussie had linked to the Yagan wiki entry I just posted :-)


  7. greg hoey says:

    Missing head is the least of yagans worries. Its just a terrible statue. Woeful. Passe’. Mediocre. Completely average figurative abilities.


  8. Nettie says:

    The guy who did the sculpture is my Uncle and for someone who spends most of his time sculpting naked ladies and horses, I guess he didn’t have much practise with naked men.
    Or maybe his incredible ego just got in the way of what limited creative talent he may once have possessed.

    Did that sound bitchy?
    It did?
    Good, I meant it to.


  9. Nettie says:

    lol just read the policy page. Hope slagging off my Uncle isn’t overstepping the line!


  10. Uncle slagging is specifically encouraged Nettie. However, he will probably see this, and cut you out of will.


  11. There have also been several ludicrous and stupid attempts to cover up Yagan’s willie. Another attack on the poor bastard. I would suggest that Netties uncle fire up the forge and craft an organ of appropriate proportion. Something that would stop a wine cruise boat in its tracks. I suggest the smelter at Port Kembla might be required, since we don’t do enough downstream ore processing here.


  12. Mez says:

    Dear Nettie – you have cofessed to being the neice of dear old Bob H! Thank god you are no relative fof the Smiths… or are you? are you?! say no… Please say no


  13. Nettie says:

    God no Mez, being associated with Bob is bad enough.
    LA no chance of being cut out of a will you were never in!
    Let’s just say that that side of the family ain’t exactly close. I doubt dear Uncle Robert would even recognise me if I passed him on the street. It’s taken me a good fifteen years of hard work in avoiding them to get this result and hopefully it will last!


  14. The Intellectual Bogan says:

    That’s a very ordinary statue. I’ve not seen it before, but it appears to be a bog standard, classical, muscular torso and limbs topped with the head and hairstyle of a 1930s Hollywood starlet. About the only thing I can see which is distinctively Aboriginal is the spear (and even that appears more like a weightlifters barbell halfway through a lift).

    I would take a lot of persuading that Yagan actually looked like that or even remotely similar.

    How about a campaign for a proper (ie competently executed rather than lifted from stock sources) statue of Yagan?


  15. greg hoey says:

    Thats definately good idea TIB problem with lots of these aussie memorialisations of various identities ;-schmaltzy and moderate depictions allowed only[gets in the way of australian culture being less shallow]. One imagines this would esp apply to an aboriginal monument. And its a shame. I’m sure there would be a compulsion to have the word sorry dominate its symbology as well. Effecting such a monument as anything other than political propaganda.

    And as with architecture any commissioning out of important projects such as our public and other major building infrastructure including monuments should not only be given over to the politicians and local councilors [and their business mates] to decide but this needs to have input from a panel of independant art professionals, and the public [at least the ones concerned about good design etc],
    over last twenty odd years in this era of extremely high standard quality of architecture[one of the greatest and most creative periods for architecture ever] most of it just doesnt come australia’s way through lack of open procedures.


  16. stringy says:

    The statue is in a fenced-off area, but it’s designed to keep the kangaroos in, not the humans out. So you can still get to Yagan if you feel the need to take a few photos with him :)


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  19. Frank Calabrese says:

    Speaking of the Beheading of Yagan, I found this Australian Scren entry, complete with video clips relating to the beheadings.



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  21. The Legend 101 says:

    Erl the statue makes me feel sick.


  22. Anonymous says:

    These a lot of aboriginal in the Perth jail the best thing for you is to stay away from them


  23. Kevin the real descended of yagan December 1 2014 says:

    Hi your comment got me here listen up good when the white man come on the ship he didn’t have a wife he was a convict he row his ship to shore where he met the native aboriginal women that he rape and killed the children and men


  24. you'll get wet says:

    Hi Kevin. I didn’t vote for you but when you apologised on my behalf some years back I thought it was all resolved. I certainly felt relieved. Whew! Now you’re telling me it’s not?


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