The symbolic motifs that decorate this Honour Roll are digitised, animated versions of original paintings by Sydney based Turkish artist, Gulay Pelin.
The pocket watch motif acknowledges and celebrates changes in perspective over time and was inspired by a watch belonging to honour roll soldier, Muhittin Nami Kandemir – now a treasured possession of his grandson, Kaan Kandemir.
The floral motifs: tulip, waratah and poppy are depicted in Penç, Hitâyî and Goncagül Turkish art styles. Penç is a stylized four or five-petal flower as viewed from above; Hitâyî, a stylized flower in vertical section and Goncagül, the stylized horizontal section of an unopened flower bud.
The tulip, a wild flower from Central Asia, holds an important place in Turkish art and is regarded as holy. In Persian poetry tulips symbolize eternity. The tulip is the floral emblem of Istanbul.
The waratah is a totem of the Dharawal Aboriginal people of the southern and south-western Sydney basin. The Dharawal tell creation stories regarding the white waratah and the tragic occurrences that turned it red. The waratah is the floral emblem of NSW.
In Persian literature, poppies symbolize those who die for love. White poppies in particular have symbolised human sacrifice since the time of Genghis Khan – legend has it that white poppies sprang from the churned up, blood drenched fields where Khan’s enemies had been annihilated. Post WW1 concern that ‘the war to end all wars’ would be followed by a conflict even worse, prompted The Women’s Co-operative Guild of Britain to adopt the white poppy as a symbol of hope for peace. The Guild, which counted amongst its members many mothers, sisters, widows and sweethearts of men who died, were injured or imprisoned for refusing to participate, believed that ‘nations should never again resort to the terrible and ineffectual method of war for the settlement of international disputes’. Since then white poppies have been worn as an alternative or complement to red poppies on Remembrance Day and Anzac Day.
In Australia the use of a rising sun to symbolise the hope and optimism of a ‘new day’ is associated with Australia’s federation in 1901 and appears in the art and architecture of the time. The Australian Military badge commonly known as the ‘rising sun’ is in fact an arrangement of swords and bayonets inspired by a trophy of arms hanging on the office wall of Commander of the Australian Military Forces, General Sir Edward Hutton, in 1902.
Star and crescent symbols were used across the ancient world. The peoples of Central Asia and Siberia used them in their worship of sun, moon, and sky gods. They appear in Sumerian iconology; represented the Carthaginian goddess Tanit and the Greek goddess Diana. The crescent moon and star has been associated with the Ottoman Empire since the 15th Century later becoming an internationally accepted symbol of Islam. In 1936, it was standardised in its current form as the national flag of the Turkish Republic.
Barton Stagg’s musical score for the Honour Roll, titled Into The Wires, features strings, amplified piano frame, and a melismatic microtonal solo flute part informed by Sufi musical tradition. Additional elements include: The Call to Prayer: recorded at Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney; A Lone Pine grove: a field recording made outside Canberra and sounds from the Western Front, recorded in 1917 by Lloyd G Stickells.
Into The Wires was inspired by Sir James Frazer’s description of the Ritual of Adonis, published in his 1922 book, The Golden Bough:
“And as the dead came back in the sprouting corn, so might they be thought to return in the spring flowers, waked from their long sleep by soft vernal airs …What more natural than to imagine that the violets and hyacinths, the roses and the anemones, sprang from their dust, were empurpled or incarnadined by their blood, and contained some portion of the spirit?“
The composer writes: This image of the dead, applied to the casualties of war, informed the music, along with Islamic and Christian perspectives on death in which, as Frazer writes, fear gives way to “religious emotions of this sensuous, visionary sort, hovering vaguely between pain and pleasure, between slumber and tears.”
Into The Wires is dedicated to all the Turkish and Australian composers and artists who fought at Gallipoli and especially Frederick Septimus Kelly, who wrote music from the trenches.
Curator/ Creative Director