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Captain Ulm
, 1932

by Enid Fleming

cast plaster, patinated (including base: 47.5 cm x 27.5 cm depth 27.5 cm)

Charles Ulm (1898-1934) began work as a clerk in a stockbroking office after he left school, but enlisted under a false identity in the 1st Battalion of the AIF just before his 16th birthday. He was amongst the first troops to land at Gallipoli, where he was wounded; in 1918, serving on the Western Front, he was wounded again. After the war he returned to Sydney to pursue his vision of establishing successful commercial airlines, and proved a capable and energetic administrator. When he co-piloted the Southern Cross from California to Brisbane, he had not yet obtained a pilot's licence. However, he went on to make several more record-breaking flights, both with Kingsford Smith in Southern Cross, and in command of his own aircraft, Faith in Australia. Ulm's Airspeed Envoy Stella Australis went down in the sea between California and Hawaii. His body was never found.

Enid Fleming was a pupil of the sculptor Rayner Hoff at the East Sydney Technical College, during the period in which Hoff and a group of mainly female students were working on Sydney's Anzac Memorial. Fleming was never a professional artist, but she was a close friend of Kingsford Smith's, and made several portraits of him, as well as a bas-relief of the Southern Cross. In 1932, when this bust was made, Kingsford Smith was knighted for services to aviation, but in business he was almost back to where he started, selling joyflights at ten shillings a trip and establishing an ill-fated flying school. Enid Fleming lived in Sydney all her life, and although she gave up sculpture, she continued to produce art in various mediums for her own pleasure.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Sydney Airports Corporation 2001
Accession number: 2001.187