From the Archives: Minerva Bust

The name ‘Minerva’ honours the Roman goddess of wisdom, poetry, medicine and sponsor of the arts, trade and strategy. Minerva is worshipped and celebrated around the world.

In the 1930s, Sixth Form students kept a bust of Minerva in their classrooms as a mascot and motivator to work hard, a physical reminder of the School’s motto—Nil Sine Labore.

Students wrote about the significance of her presence and impact in their Form Notes:

‘Next reposes a bust of Minerva, who along with Euripides, Sophocles, and company, reminds us that our activities must be intellectual  … we hope that the Juniors will be successful in their examinations and that the Senior results will show that the influence of Minerva has not been altogether unavailing’ (December 1937, p. 15).

Minerva’s influence continued through the 1950s, with the following comment noted in the 1959 School Magazine:

‘It is to be hoped that future generations of Sixths will respect Minerva’s longevity, admire her remarkably well-preserved appearance and dust the old girl at least once a term!’

However, in the 1960s, Minerva disappeared. Read more about the mysterious disappearance of Minerva via this link.

For almost 60 years, the School had no photographic record of the Minerva bust. It was not until late 2018 that a photo was recovered from a 1959 Class Reunion folder. The photo (below) features past students Anne Edwards (1960), Geraldine Wheeler (1960), and Barbara Kay (1960) with Minerva.

1959 Anne Edwards (1960), Geraldine Wheeler (1960) and Barbara Kay (1960) with Minerva.

The last sighting of Minerva at Girls Grammar was in 1966 when she appeared in a photograph album compiled by Form VID for their Form Mistress, Mrs Doreen Yates. In the photograph, she is wearing a summer Panama hat and a tie that includes the Sixth Formers’ new badge. After that, she seems to have disappeared. However, you cannot keep a goddess—or a Grammar girl—down.

1966 Minerva and the first VI Form badge design.

This year, Minerva returned to the BGGS campus after the P&F Association commissioned the creation of a new bronze bust to commemorate their 70th anniversary.

With the 70th anniversary of the association in 2022, President of the P&F Association, Dr Cate Campbell, knew the perfect commemoration of this occasion would be the recreation of a bust for the modern Grammar girl, a bust that she hoped ‘all students (would) see something of themselves, or who they aspire to be, in’. Accomplished artist and sculptor, Mr Phillip Piperides, was engaged to create the new bust.

Unveiled at a ceremony attended by Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ms Julie McKay, Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh, Trustees, staff, current, and former P&F Association members, and parents, the event brought together the BGGS community in celebration of this important P&F milestone and significant gift to the School.

Of the new sculpture, which is situated outside of the Western Wing at the front of the School, Ms Euler Welsh said, ‘Minerva is also attributed with fighting on behalf of just causes and was seen as a civilising influence on society—qualities that we aim to instill in BGGS students today’.

The video below shows the steps taken to make Minerva and includes an interview with Dr Campbell and Mr Piperides in which they discuss their vision for the goddess.