Blood, sweat and tears lands on lawns of Australian War Memorial

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A close up of a marble "droplet"

A "droplet" of marble by Alex Seton

A contemporary public artwork, crafted in marble by artist Alex Seton, has arrived at the Australian War Memorial to represent the “blood, sweat and tears” shed by those in service and their families.

For Every Drop Shed in Anguish is made up of 18 unique "droplets" of marble, some weighing up to 3000 kgs.

The sculpture has arrived for installation with landscaping to follow.  The dedication will be held on Thursday 22 February 2024 with the event open to the public.

The Director of the Memorial, Matt Anderson, said: “Alex Seton has created a powerful work that will speak to a diverse range of visitors. 

“We hope this space on the Memorial grounds will be a welcoming place for visitors to pause and reflect on the experience of service, either theirs or someone they love.

”We are proud to have worked with a committee of veterans and families, who unanimously selected Alex Seton’s proposal for this engaging sculptural work. Their contributions to the project were shaped by their own personal experiences.”

The work is said to represent those affected by operations and during training, both in war and on peacetime service.

The Memorial’s Project Manager and Senior Curator of Art, Anthea Gunn, said the artwork captures the complexities of suffering and war.

“This is a different way of recognising the true cost of service,” Dr Gunn said.

“It is a public acknowledgement and point of connection to all who have suffered as a consequence of service. The colours and crystals that form the marble represent the scars so many live with every day, but show them as something beautiful, a symbol of resilience. 

“Instead of a traditional heroic sculpture, this work is a contemporary abstract form that creates a place for people to engage through art with the lived experience of service.

“It aligns with the historic purpose of the Memorial in remembering those who have died, but it also acknowledges the ongoing suffering that can happen as a result of war.”

The artist, Alex Seton, is also featured inside the Memorial’s galleries with his 47 marble depictions of folded Australian flags. The As of Today… sculptures commemorate all Australian soldiers who lost their lives as a result of service in "Operation Slipper" in Afghanistan.

Seton said: “For Every Drop Shed in Anguish is a field of marble droplets on the lawns of the Australian War Memorial. These rounded and abstracted liquid forms represent every drop of blood, sweat and tears ever shed by Australian military personnel and their families.

“I chose the dewdrop form for its fragility and tension. Every droplet has a particular shape, defined by its delicate surface tension, as if about to burst. But most importantly, when touched, these forms reveal themselves to have an inner strength and resilience that I hope can provide a promise of hope and healing.”

Register to attend here for the public Dedication Ceremony on Thursday 22 February 2024.

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