Hall of Memory mosaic dome

Unit Australian War Memorial
Accession Number ART90409.005
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 12m (diameter)
Object type Mosaic
Physical description glass enamel tesserae
Location Main Bld: Commemorative Area: Hall of Memory: Commemoration
Date made 1955-1958
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

The cupola, or dome of the Hall of Memory, Australian War Memorial, Canberra. In 1937 the Australian War Memorial board commissioned Waller to commemorate the sacrifices made by Australians in the First World War, asking him to design stained-glass windows and mosaics for the Hall of Memory. The commemorative nature of the Hall of Memory commission, its monumental scale, and its significance in contemporary Australian life must all have held great appeal for Waller. The Hall of Memory was to be a place accessible to all Australians in which visitors could quietly contemplate the spirit of sacrifice of Australians in war. The theme of Waller's dome ornamentation is eternal life, the ascent of the spirits of the fallen. Within its splendid abstraction we may contemplate the sacrifice of the dead. From the base of the dome stylised hands deliver the souls of the dead from the earth, rendered in green and brown, through clouds, then blue sky, to heaven. The spirits are symbolised by winged coffins in shapes reminiscent of Egyptian mummies. On the uppermost member of the cornice a classical wreath emphasises that the Hall of Memory is a memorial to the fallen. A flight of black swans symbolises the air, and beneath them are bands of stylised water lilies and bull rushes symbolising water. An unbroken gold chain represents continuity. The ethereal qualities of Waller's subject are heightened by the artificial light that reflects from the intense contrasting blue, orange and gold tesserae.