While walking down a street in Perth, I noticed a sculpture commemorating street entertainer Percy Button. Button had emigrated from England to Western Australia in 1910. He did odd jobs and worked as a farmhand. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in World War-I but was invalided and discharged in 1918. I was confident that I could imitate Button’s pose (in the sculpture) and asked a friend to capture it on camera.
An inscription said:
Percy Button was a local street entertainer and one of Perth’s best known faces from the 1920s to the 1950s. Performing somersaults and handstands, Percy entertained people for a few shillings while they waited to see films, newsreels and theatrical performances at the theatres that were concentrated in what is now the Hay Street Mall, the Theatre Royal, the Ambassador and His Majesty’s Theatre. Percy was reknowned for his grubbiness and in November 1929, a local newspaper, The Mirror, dressed Percy up in a long-tailed suit and ran a front page competition asking readers to guess the identity of the cleaned up man. The Mirror offered a guinea’s worth of goods for the first opened letter giving the man’s name. The newspaper later asked Percy to write the 1929 Centenary Christmas Message. This artwork celebrates the spirit of the street.
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor Dr. Peter Nattress
12 October 2006