Commemorating Our ANZAC History

Hello Blog Buddies!

I  must tell you about an art installation project I have the privilege to be involved in this year. 
It marks, what I believe to be, the most important date on the Australian calendar.

As every Australian would know, this April marks the 100th anniversary of our ANZAC troops landing at Gallipoli. For my Northern hemisphere friends, ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps and is an acronym that immediately stirs strong, emotional pride in any Australians heart. 

During World War I, (under British authorisation) our ANZAC troops arrived at Gallipoli, in Turkey. They were ill-equipped, ill-advised and completely at the mercy of Turkish troops who saw them coming. The troops fought in appalling trench conditions and remained at the cove with little advancement for approximately nine months. 

Australian casualties for the Gallipoli campaign amounted to 8,709.

The Turkish people now acknowledge and honour this horrendous period in history with us and mark the occasion with a dawn service every year.

In 1934, Kemal Atatürk ( commander of Turkish forces at Gallipoli and later the first president of modern Turkey) wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours ... 
You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
(This inscription appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra.)
 This year marks the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.
All over Australia, there are many thoughtful and moving tributes that have been created to mark this important anniversary. My current school decided to install a simply beautiful remembrance field of poppies that every student in the school would contribute to.

Our two visual arts teachers conceived the vision and delivered this stunning project.

Clay poppies were created by the students using two layers of clay held together with a slurry. 
Each poppy was then fired in a kiln.

They are approximately the size of a saucer.

Every student, teacher and staff member has a poppy and, just as in nature, 
every one is slightly different. A piece of dowel was hot-glued into an opening at the bottom 
of every poppy.

 A class collection was delivered to every room for painting.

 Every child painted their own poppy...

... very carefully!

The dowel made it easier to paint...

...which was good because there were lots of ridges to 'get in to'!

The poppy petals needed to dry and then the stalks were painted green and the centres black.

Finally, a coat of varnish was applied to protect the flowers from the elements.

Finally, it was 'planting' day.

 The entire school was involved with the installation.

It was all prepared in time for our school's special ANZAC Day assembly.

The morning of the assembly was chilly....

... but nobody seemed to mind.

People gathered in the streets to participate.

It really was beautiful and moving commemoration.

 Lest We Forget

(Photos used with permission)

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