Artist Steven Holland is a quietly spoken man, but you can hear the passion in his voice when he speaks about his work in the Australian War Memorial’s sculpture garden.
Having completed the Animals in war memorial in 2009, Holland was commissioned in 2019 to create a new memorial honouring military working dogs and their handlers.
“I was just thrilled,” he said. “The dogs are so important and it is fantastic to be able to honour them.”
The new memorial Circling into sleep features a tear-shaped slab of granite and a series of paw-prints cast in bronze which spiral into the centre of the memorial, alluding to the circling behaviour of dogs as they settle down to rest.
“When we were making the Animals in War memorial, the stonemasons gave me a piece of stone – an offcut from the plinth – and asked me if I would like to take it home,” Holland said.
“I had it in the garden, and I just thought, ‘That’s it, if we can somehow incorporate this existing piece of stone into the centre of the memorial, it will tie the two things together beautifully.’
“The next thing was to establish lines of communication with the men and women who work with military working dogs …
“You’ve got the RAAF security dogs, the Military Police dogs, and the Special Forces dog teams, and somehow or other, they all needed to be acknowledged through this memorial.
“The Memorial did not want to incorporate a representation of a dog because there are so many different types of dogs – different sizes, and different shapes – that work in the military and they didn’t want to tie it down to any one type, or to any one conflict.”