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The ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ #2012-0057

Resin cast of Leslie Bury, William McMahon and John Gorton caricaturised as three monkeys.


This resin cast depicts three prominent Australian political leaders: Sir Leslie Bury (1913-1986), Sir John Grey Gorton (1911-2002) and Sir William McMahon (1908-1988). Gorton and McMahon were both prime ministers (Gorton from 1968-71 and McMahon from 1971-72) and had been senior ministers in the Menzies and Holt governments. The third figure, Leslie Bury, was prominent as a senior minister under Holt, Gorton and McMahon, most notably as Treasurer (1969-71) and Foreign Affairs Minister (1971). Bury, along with McMahon and Gorton, was also a leadership contender to succeed Harold Holt but could not gather enough support in the Liberal Party. Bury is perhaps best remembered for his role in the conscription debate – during the Vietnam War, as Minister for National Service, he and army minister Phil Lynch were frequently targeted by protesters shouting ‘Lynch Bury and bury Lynch’. Bury was applauded, however, for his role in removing the ‘marriage bar’ for women in the public service, allowing women to marry and retain their employment positions.

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This resin cast was made by the Australian artist Terry Sedgewick from a mold that he also used to produce candles for commercial sale. The candles were produced in the 1970s and 1980s and sold at Grace Bros in Canberra. This resin cast has social significance as a satirical depiction of Bury, Gorton, and McMahon, and as a record of the production and commercial demand for the associated candles. Sedgewick has stated that although he had always been interested in politics, the candles were produced solely for commercial reasons, and had no connection with a movement, party or protest. The commercial demand for the candles justified their production and sale in large quantities. Perhaps this is evidence of a particularly Australian appreciation for the lampooning of political figures.

  • ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ by Terry Sedgewick‘Three Wise Monkeys’ by Terry Sedgewick —


Width 174mm
Height 135mm
Depth 68mm
Medium Resin
Creator’s name Terry Sedgewick
Date created 1970s