Skip to main content

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
, 1932

by Enid Fleming

cast plaster, patinated (including base: 46.0 cm x 25.0 cm depth 26.0 cm)

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith MC AFC (1897-1935) and Captain Charles Ulm (1898-1934) together founded Australian National Airways in 1930. During World War I, Kingsford Smith had served on the ground in Gallipoli, Egypt and France before transferring to the Australian Flying Corps and later the Royal Flying Corps, as a member of which he was awarded the Military Cross. He worked in England, America and Australia as a stunt flyer and joy-flight pilot, and then for WA Airways, before forming his own aviation company in 1924. Ulm became a partner in 1927, and the pair launched a series of important demonstration flights, together and separately setting a number of records. Kingsford Smith was world famous by 1930. Although his business fluctuated, his heroic achievements accumulated until he disappeared, probably near the coast of Burma, on an attempt at the Britain-Australia record.

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: 2001.188