George Essex Evans Memorial
'Beyond a window, its bottom tier hitched Like a skirt at a beach, this verandah waits. Pretending no absence, resting on this reef, Will I find at last my life floating out Like a dream just this side of sleeping? Here between the house and the world: A space, stripped, open to air A room, rippled above and below A home like a safe, dry hollow in the heart Of an ocean.' ‘A Dream of Refuge,’ Jean Kent
Following the death of Essex Evans in 1909 the people of Toowoomba raised funds by public subscription for a memorial. The monument was erected in Webb Park some four years later.
The park is situated on the rim of the range at the head of Campbell street - an avenue of overarching camphor laurel trees and rows of old Queensland houses which represents one of Toowoomba's most prestigious addresses. Campbell street provides the access route to the park for most of Toowoomba's residents and its distinctive avenue of trees helps to establish a set of associations appropriate to the romantic aesthetic which is a feature of Evans' work.
Access to the memorial is east along Campbell Street to the edge of the escarpment. Here the Camphor Laurel avenue opens out into the immediate lawns of the park and the distant views of the Lockyer valley to the east and the border ranges to the south. The effect of this opening out from avenue to view is to emphasise the sense of space which then acts as a foil for the literary memorial in the foreground.
The placement of the monument to the poet in this beautiful setting is intended to create associations with the poet's rendering of that scene and scenes like it in his verse, as well as with the rural development of the agricultural valley which the park commands.
The monument itself consists of two truncated sandstone columns of unequal length united by a trevase of the same stone mounted upon a basalt pedestal. Each column is encircled with a spiraling garland of laurel leaves in high relief. According to convention the truncated columns signify a life cut short while the laurel leaves symbolise the spirit of his verse, which remains a living force in the world he has departed.
The monument is inscribed on each side with verse quotations from the poet's work including the following from 'Toowoomba':
Dark purple, chased with sudden gloom and glory,
Like waves in wild unrest.
Low-wooded billows and steep summits hoary,
Ridge, slope and mountain crest,
Cease at her feet with faces turned to greet her,
Enthroned, apart, serene,
Above her vassal hills whose voices greet her
The Mountain Queen.
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