Sir John Monash Centre and The Australian War Memorial Villers-Bretonneux, France / by LISA CAHILL

Last year I was commissioned to create a Rising Sun made in Glass for the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian War Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux in France. The centre was designed by Cox Architecture with Williams, Abraham and Lampros and intended to complement the original War Memorial designed by Edwin Lutyens after World War One. 

The centre is not a  a traditional museum but a next-generation immersive experience that employs 480 display screens and an app. to share the experiences of ordinary Australians who fought on the Western Front.

The Centre also examines Australia before the war, the reasons why Australia joined the Allied effort, and the after-effects of the global conflict, contributing to the nation we know today.

The artwork that I have created was inspired by the original interpretation by Sir Edwin Lutyens of the ANZAC badge that frames the entrance to the Memorial. It was cast in lead crystal and sits on a bronze plated bar in a 3 metre high Bronze Totem as you exit the centre. Its placement has been designed to rest on the horizon. 

The nature of cast glass allows for the hand of the maker to be visible in the textures and brush strokes of the artist's tools on the surface reminding the viewer of the human sacrifice of war. These textures will also be reminiscent of the muddy fields and of the surrounding terrain where many battles were fought. The use of minimal decorations allows the viewer to focus on the Rising Sun symbol and the solemnity of the location.

I have just arrived in Villers- Bretonneux and have been touring the Memorial for the first time. Its such an honour to work on this project and being here and seeing the memorial and the new interpretive centre is very moving.

I will be installing the artwork over the next 10 days and look forward to seeing the work in its final destination.