Some people may recognize this bronze statue of Diana and the Hounds which stands in front of the Conservatory in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens. It is the work of Australian sculptor William Leslie Bowles, who was born on 26 February 1885 in Leichhardt, New South Wales. He attended the Kangaroo Point State School, Brisbane, followed by time spent at Brisbane Technical College under Art Nouveau potter and furniture designer Lewis J. Harvey, where he studied carving and modelling.
In 1910, Bowles obtained a scholarship to study in the U.K. He worked with several sculptors, including Bertram Mackennal, and attended night classes at the South London School of Sculpture as well as the Royal Academy. Hence, Bowles’s style is very similar to that of Mackennal.
After working and marrying his wife, Bowles returned to Australia,where he was employed with other artists in the Melbourne Exhibition Building and on the Australian War Memorial project, for which he submitted several sculptures, and dioramas, and two plans for the Hall of Memory.
- Bowles was a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
- He exhibited with the Victorian Artists’ Society (1925-1932), and with the Australian Art Association (mid-1930s-1940s).
- In 1932, he became a foundation member and Secretary of the Sculptors’ Society of Australia, after a meeting in Ola Cohn’s studio.
- He also adjudicated the Jubilee Medal award, and was a foundation member of the Australian Academy of Art.
In 1938 Bowles established a studio at his home in Frankston and it was here that he died of coronary vascular disease on 21st February, 1954.
The above image of Diana and the Hounds casting was made and set by A. B. Brunton in London before the outbreak of WW2. Its journey back to Australia included a run against the gauntlet of German U-Boats on its journey to Australia. It was later erected in a pool in front of the Conservatory and officially unveiled on 4th September, 1940, by Melbourne’s Lord Mayor of the time.
- Diana & the Hounds replaced an earlier crumbling plaster and cement Diana created in the same spot in the 1860s which had been a copy of The Vatican’s Roman “Diana Goddess of Mood and Contemplation.”
In mythology Diana was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry, however Diana is also known as Goddess of the Hunt and Moon – Goddess of the Hunter’s Moon maybe?