James Parrett Blog
Australian War Memorial Commission
On 09, Jan 2014 | In James Parrett Blog | By admin
In 2012 I was commissioned to produce a new memorial commemorating those Australians who died in the defence of Rabaul during World War II, and those who later died as prisoners in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru. It was to be placed in the in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial.
Rabaul & Montevideo Memorial Sculpture
I was contacted by the art department of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in early 2011 after Lola Wiltkins, the then head of the art department saw my work M-fifteen at the 2010/11 McClelland sculpture survey and award. I was asked to put in and expression of interest and then asked along with two other artists to create a full proposal. It was a fantastic moment when I received the call from Lola telling me they liked my idea the most for this project. The Contracts were all signed in late August 2011 and work commenced.
Working with (and for) the AWM was an amazing learning experience in terms of the administration side of a commission process. I think a place like the AWM has to make sure everything is covered. The things that had to be done even before the construction process started were daunting but actually quite fun. I think I ended up having to make 30 invoices, which has now made me a pro. The fabrication work started in November by J.K.Fasham, a sculptural fabrication company I have been working with for many years and absolutely love. I was basically at there factory in Clayton South, Victoria at least twice a week for the time it took to make the work as there were lots of decisions that needed to be made. Safety was paramount as lots of kids visit the AWM. We had to soften any of the edges that were at head height. I really love having to work with obstacles that come up during the construction process; It’s when the sculpture really comes alive.
We installed the sculpture in April 2012 (J.K.Fasham transported and Installed the work). It was a really enjoyable experience over the two days but was amazingly cold on one of the mornings. It wasn’t until the dedication day that I realized how important this memorial was to a lot of people. I had people coming up (and sending emails) telling me how much it meant to them to have a place where the memory of there loved one and the event itself could kind of belong too. It was very humbling.
I am very grateful to the AWM and the Rebaul and Montevideo Maru society for giving me the opportunity. It was truly a life changing experience for and something I will always remember.