Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial
- Matthew Harding
- Tectura Architects
- Turkish Sub-branch of the Victorian RSL
- Victorian RSL
The Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial Sculpture, Seeds of Friendship, marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and pays tribute to the extraordinary origins of the shared history between Australia and Turkey. Located within the leafy surrounds of the Kings Domain and in close proximity to the Shrine of Remembrance, the memorial creates a functional and aesthetic public place that appeals to a broad range of users for the contemplation on the impact of war, and provides a platform for current and future generations from both cultures to reflect on the respect and friendship resulting from this story.
INCLUSIVENESS (DESIGN EXCELLENCE)
Four years in the making, the realisation of this memorial was a community-driven project that redefined the Australian-Turkish Gallipoli narrative to one of friendship and resilience to coincide with the ANZAC Centenary. The sculpture uses both traditional memorial metaphors and poetic symbolism. Curved, interwoven stainless steel strands symbolise the traditional laying of a commemorative wreath, while two hand-carved granite seed cones, representing the lone pine from Gallipoli and an Australian casuarina seed, represent the fallen from both sides. These elements are anchored by a ground plane that contains inscriptions from both a Turkish and Australian perspective.
PARTICIPATORY DESIGN PROCESS (DESIGN TRANSFORMATION)
What started out as an idea from a few passionate individuals and grassroots organisations gained community and political momentum, ultimately achieving broad public and private sector funding and support. Initiated by the Turkish Sub-branch of the Returned and Services League (RSL), with Tectura Architects as the project managers and architects, the support base grew through a series of workshops and consultations. Historians, artists, community groups, the Victorian RSL and the City of Melbourne became involved, along with State and Federal Government and the Republic of Turkey. After a lengthy shortlisting process, the final commissioned design by artist Matthew Harding was reminiscent of the ANZAC narrative, while also encapsulating the very collaborative nature of the project itself.
SOCIAL COHESION AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (DESIGN IMPACT)
From the outset, the Turkish-Australian community was consulted on what the impact of the memorial should be. Four outcomes were established for inclusion in the Design Brief submitted to the shortlisted artists for their design response.
• Educate by building knowledge of the Gallipoli campaign for future generations;
• Commemorate the respect, camaraderie and friendship displayed by ANZAC and Turkish soldiers;
• Provide a place of reflection and commemoration, with visual references to Gallipoli;
• Celebrate the linking and exchange between cultures, highlighting the firm connections between Australia and Turkey over the last century.
REDEFINED OBJECT AND USER EXPERIENCE (DESIGN INNOVATION)
The memorial’s final form and materiality illustrate a successful cross-disciplinary collaboration between the sculptor, architects, fabricators, engineers, historians and curators. The tactile and organic form invites public interaction, such as the threading of poppies in the wreath, and the inscriptions invite users to absorb the voices underpinning the historic narrative. The carefully selected location – set amongst a clearing of trees and dappled light of the heritage gardens – creates an intimate spatial focus while enhancing the artistic fabric of Melbourne. The memorial’s socially cohesive objectives form part of a broader redefinition of the relationship between object and user, artwork and viewer and sculpture and landscape.
The realisation of this project was so much more than the sum of its parts. Working with Tectura Architects and the RSL, the City of Melbourne contributed to setting expectations and the design approach and gave permission for the memorial to be located on council land. Moreover, the project team was successful in securing funding from the Victorian Government’s Anzac Centenary Major Grants Fund and the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund; the Australian Government’s ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program and Saluting their Service Major Commemorative Grants Program; the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Promotion Fund; and donations from community members.