Four pillars

Accession Number ART91887
Collection type Art
Measurement wood: h: 89.2 x 38.9 x 118.5 cm; pedestal: 19.5 x 50 x 129.7 cm; steel: 89.2 x 40.3 x 118.6 cm; pedestal: 19.5 x 49.9 x 129.5 cm; marble: 89.2 x 40.8 x 120 cm; pedestal: 19.3 x 49.8 x 129.7 cm; glass: 89.2 x 41.6 x 125.4 cm; pedestal: 19.4 x 50.2 x 129.8 cm
Object type Sculpture
Physical description marble, wood, steel, glass
Location Main Bld: Commemorative Area: Hall of Memory: Commemoration
Maker Laurence, Janet
Tonkin, Peter
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1992
Conflict Period 1990-1999
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

To create the Four pillars for the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Memory, sculptor Janet Laurence worked in collaboration with Peter Tonkin of Tonkin Zulaikha Harford Architects. The Four Pillars are integral part of the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier and are installed in the apse of the Hall of Memory. The Four Pillars partly recall the concept of the 'Four Freedoms' by Leslie Bowles, the sculpture originally proposed for the apse. Taking inspiration from the ancient Greek world view, each pillar is dedicated to one of the four basis elements and are each made of different material - one of wood, one of marble, one of steel, and one of glass. 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 in the Hall of Memory.

The four differently shaped pillars, 8.9 metres high, are constructed from materials symbolising the four elements: wood is symbolic of air, its polished surface is associated with the disembodied spirit and souls of the dead; marble is symbolic of earth and has associations with permanence and endurance, physical structure and the coldness of death; glass is symbolic of water, ice-like and colourless. It is linked with the flow of change and transfiguration and the souls of the living and the metal pillar is symbolic of Fire, it is associated with energy and passion, patriotism and bravery.