Antony Symons farewelled at ceremony in Rydal cemetery

WARRIOR MARKINGS: Friend of Antony Symons Ceane Towers draws Wiradjuri warrior markings on his casket. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.
WARRIOR MARKINGS: Friend of Antony Symons Ceane Towers draws Wiradjuri warrior markings on his casket. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

Sculptor Antony Symons was farewelled on Friday, March 9, at a burial held under the eucalypts of Rydal Cemetery.

The ceremony was attended by Mr Symons’ two daughters Zenta and Ella, as well as their partners Mark and Eddie. 

Friends and family were invited to speak at the ceremony, recalling Mr Symons’ slow and impassioned conversations infused with his love of art, literature and nature. 

Grandson Ted Camilleri likened him to JRR Tolkien’s character Treebeard, for whom anything worth listening to takes a long time to say. 

Many described Symons as the embodiment of a ‘true artist’. 

Writer Martin Edmond, who attended the funeral wearing a jacket gifted to him by Symons, spoke of his friend’s affiliation with Chinese, Greek and Aboriginal cultures, as well as his stubbornly independent nature.

SHARING: Lithgow artist Ana Carter recalls working with Symons. His son-in-law Mark, grandson Ted and daughter Zenta Camilleri are seated.

SHARING: Lithgow artist Ana Carter recalls working with Symons. His son-in-law Mark, grandson Ted and daughter Zenta Camilleri are seated.

He recalled Symons preferred name for Rydal, ‘Solitary Creek’, and shared an anecdote about the time he put his hand out to try to steady Symons’ frail frame.

“ ‘I have never fallen down in my life and I am not going to do it now,’ he said to me,” Mr Edmond said. 

“That’s the way he was, a kind of miraculous person.” 

Lithgow artist Ana Carter, who shared Symons last exhibition at Eskbank House, recounted how they met. 

“I came to this town a little lost and I was looking for like-minded spirits who value human creativeness. The Fullertons said, ‘we know the perfect person for you’.” 

“It was beautiful to actually see his work and I wanted to show it to other people,” she said. 

UNDER THE TREES: Antony Symons funeral at Rydal Cemetary.

UNDER THE TREES: Antony Symons funeral at Rydal Cemetary.

“I only knew him eight years but it was a very abundant eight years I did know him.”

Pastor Ray Minniecon, who founded the Black Diggers March, spoke highly of the sculpture Symons created to provide public recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander soldiers’ contribution to Australian war efforts overseas, called ‘Dancing with Strangers’.

“ ‘Dancing with strangers’ captured the spirit of the warriors so well. It was the most brilliant sculpture any fighter or warrior has seen,” Mr Minniecon said. 

“‘The sculpture he created was a battering ram against the racist system that denies Aboriginal recognition.”

Symons’ ‘Dancing with Strangers’ was never displayed at its intended location in Circular Quay, for which Mr Minniecon apologised. 

RELEASE: White pigeons were released during the ceremony.

RELEASE: White pigeons were released during the ceremony.

“We fought a good fight and we lost, I’m sorry for that.”

Norman Rees from the Lithgow RSL also thanked Symons for his contribution to the war memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park. 

Friend Ceane Towers drew Wiradjuri warrior markings on Symons casket in white clay, and recalled some ceremonies she had participated in with Mr Symons. 

“You know it’s a ceremony when there's a wedge-tailed eagle flying around the top,” she said. 

The attendees were invited to place items on Mr Symons basket and white pigeons were released as the basket was lowered into the ground. 

“We’ve lost a prophet today,” friend Jefferson Lee said.