It is an unhappy truth that relatively few famous or influential women around the world have been immortalised in statues, let alone cast in bronze.
Sydney sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner have surveyed public art in Sydney, London and New York and found barely three per cent of statues in those cities depict history's heroines.
But Newcastle will buck that trend when a statue of former lord mayor Joy Cummings takes up residence outside the revamped Civic Station in early December.
Ms Cummings, who died in 2003, was Australia's first female lord mayor.
She is also the first public figure in Newcastle to be honoured with a bronze statue.
People will recognise Mum. They'll actually recognise her.Margaret Badger
Artist Margot Stephens has finished a clay mold of the sculpture in her Mudgee studio and is waiting for a Sydney foundry to cast it.
Ms Cummings, lord mayor for all but one year from 1974 to 1984, was a prominent Labor figure popular for her personal warmth and progressive stance on environmental, heritage and indigenous issues.
She is credited with establishing Foreshore Park and was awarded the Order of Australia in 1978.
She suffered a severe stroke in 1984, just after being re-elected a third time, and had to retire from politics.
The work depicts Ms Cummings with a right hand outstretched in greeting and her left holding a folded Aboriginal flag, a reminder that in 1977, under her leadership, Newcastle became the first Australian council to fly the black, red and yellow banner above a civic building.
Ms Stephens has sculpted her dressed in the mayoral robes she wore when Prince Charles and Princess Diana, visited the city in 1983.
Ms Cummings' daughters, Helen, Kathryn and Margaret, and daughter-in-law Julie gathered outside Civic Station on Thursday to reminisce about their family life and inspect the concrete plinth that will support their mother's effigy.
Margaret said the sisters had visited Ms Stephens in Mudgee and were "so moved, because it was like her".
"It was so accurately her smile, her eyes, the little vertical frown line between her brows, if she wasn't pleased," she said.
"That just meant she wasn't a pushover, that little line. People will recognise Mum. They'll actually recognise her."
Margaret said it was fitting that her mother's likeness would face Civic Theatre.
"I think the whole extended family is absolutely thrilled," she said.
"To think that she's going to be looking back at the theatre she helped to save. It was a movie theatre and it became live theatre in her time."
Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation paid for the statue, and Newcastle council oversaw the project.
Incumbent lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Ms Cummings was a "trailblazer" for women in leadership.
"It's fitting that Joy's pioneering legacy will be showcased in such an amazing and enduring way," she said.
Ms Stephens said it was an "incredible privilege to work on the portrait of such an intelligent, courageous and determined woman".
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