The medallion in honour of Dr James O'Neil Mayne
The medallion in honour of Dr James O'Neil Mayne
21 October 2010

The University of Queensland has commissioned a new artwork commemorating one of its first and most significant benefactors, Dr James O'Neil Mayne.

Dr Mayne and his younger sister, Mary Emelia Mayne, made the University's move to its current St Lucia site possible with donations amounting to sixty thousand pounds between 1927 and 1929.

The money paved the way for the Brisbane City Council to resume 110 hectares of sugar cane, arrowroot and pineapple farming land at St Lucia for the University.

Situated above the University' Foundation Stone on a Helidon freestone panel in the foyer of the Forgan Smith Building Tower, the artwork consists of a life size bronze portrait medallion relief of Dr Mayne, accompanied by a bronze dedication plaque.

The medallion is the latest creation of alumna and University sculptor Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM, whose grotesques, coats of arms and flora and fauna carvings adorn the Great Court of the St Lucia campus.

The medallion came about after an approach to UQ's Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield by UQ benefactor Dr Rosamond Siemon, an expert on the Mayne family and author of the popular book The Mayne Inheritance, and Jean Tremayne from the Mayne Medical School at Herston.

Ms Hinwood said the new backdrop to the artwork was made from a selected panel of Helidon freestone -- a high-quality sandstone from a quarry at Helidon at the foot of the Toowoomba range; the same stone used in the University's Great Court and original buildings.

The portrait of Dr Mayne was based on a photograph of Dr Mayne taken when he was 38 years of age in 1899 when he was Superintendent of the Brisbane General Hospital.

"I chose the photograph in consultation with Dr Siemon and although he was 28 years older when the St Lucia site was gifted to the University in 1926, we thought this photo showed him in his most dynamic years and was an alternative to the image of the aged gentleman depicted in the painting in the UQ Art Museum by renowned Brisbane artist, Melville Haysom. I decided to add the large diamond tie pin which he always wore," Ms Hinwood said.

"The generous philanthropy of Dr James O'Neil Mayne was a catalyst for the establishment of The University of Queensland on the St Lucia site and provides generous support into the future. It is very appropriate that this portrait is now sited above the Foundation Stone which omits his name, and that formal recognition of his most generous gifts has now been made during the Centenary of the University."

The wording of the citation plaque reads: "In honour of Dr James O'Neil Mayne whose generous philanthropic gifts to The University of Queensland have transformed higher education in Queensland and the lives of generations."

Media: Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (07 3365 2802).