The Four Pillars in the Hall of Memory
The pillars, designed by Janet Laurence, take their inspiration and form from existing architectural details in the Hall of Memory. They duplicate, in identical location and spacing, the four mullions in each of the arched stained glass windows by Napier Waller. The pillars have been designed to echo the dimensions and colour of the mullions, which they replicate, yet are subtly varied in actual form and material to suit their symbolic program.
Being simple abstract shapes they do not dominate the Tomb itself. Instead they fulfil an architectural function of completing the symmetry of the Hall of Memory, and filling the void of the apse without making it a more important space than the area of the Tomb in the centre.
Symbolism of the Pillars
The four pillars partly recall the concept of the Four Freedoms by Leslie Bowles, the sculpture originally proposed for the apse. They also have symbolism of their own. Taking inspiration from the ancient Greek world-view that still informs the philosophy of our own day, each pillar is dedicated to one of the four basic elements - earth, fire, air and water. These elements are associated with aspects of life and death, creation and destruction and the seasons of the year. Without specific religious reference they support the symbolism of Waller's mosaics and stained glass.
The Earth pillar is made of marble and has associations with permanence and endurance, physical structure and the coldness of death.
The metal pillar symbolises Fire; it is associated with energy and passion, patriotism and bravery.
The wooden pillar symbolises Air; its polished surface is associated with disembodied spirit and the souls of the dead.
The Water pillar is made of glass, ice-like and colourless. It is linked with the flow of change and transfiguration and the souls of the living.
Together the pillars form a row of totems and provide contemplative background to the Tomb, while providing a fitting completion to the architecture of the Hall of Memory.