ANZAC Memorial Hyde Park

ANZAC Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney

Public Art : ANZAC Memorial

Architect/Sculptor : © The Memorial was designed by Charles Bruce Dellit (1900-1942) and the reliefs and sculptures were by Rayner Hoff (27 November 1894 – 19 November 1937) .

Date : The ANZAC Memorial was built between 1929-1934 and was dedicated in 1934 by the Duke of Gloucester.

ANZAC War Memorial, Hyde Park, SydneyDescription : The ANZAC Memorial was designed by a then 29 year old architect, C. Bruce Dellit. His winning Art Deco design was pretty much frowned upon at the time, mainly because it broke away from traditional design. All the sculptures and reliefs were created by sculptor Rayner Hoff. He too didn't escape criticism. The bronze sculpture 'Sacrifice' (inside the Memorial), representing a dead naked soldier, shocked many at the time of the opening and it appears it is the only such sculpture of a naked male within any war memorial in Australia or as book Sacred Places states " the only penis visible on an Australian War Memorial". There are 20 cast granite figures on each buttress, several figural reliefs (some 10m long) and carved granite reliefs on the exterior of the memorial. The four sculptures on the high niches represent the army, navy, airforce and the nursing service. The 16 ones below, sitting on buttresses, represent 15 servicemen and a nurse. Each of them captures the agonies of war. There are two long bronze bas reliefs, one portraying the western Front the other Gallipoli and the Middle East.

Location : The ANZAC War Memorial is located in Hyde Park south, Sydney, Australia.

Background of the ANZAC War Memorial : Fund raising for the ANZAC War Memorial began on 25 April 1916, the first anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landing at Anzac Cove for the Battle of Gallipoli. However it ould take another 13 years for Parliament to agree on a location. Ten possible locations were considered before deciding on Hyde Park. The deciding factor being that the memorial would complement the recently commissioned Archibald Fountain which was to commemorate the alliance between the French and Australian troops, who fought along side each other. So with location decided all that was left was a competition for a design. The competition allowed British subjects either in Australia or abroad to submit a design that would cost no more than £75,000. The committee received over 100 entries but in the end it was announced (in July 1930) that young Sydney architect C.Bruce Dellit had won. In responding to critics about his non traditional Art Deco design, Dellit remarked that the classical style would actually distract people from contemplating the war dead. The Memorial itself is constructed of concrete, with the exterior clad with pink granite. It features set-backs and buttresses, large arched windows and a stepped roof.

Background of Rayner Hoff and the ANZAC Memorial Sculptures : Rayner Hoff was no stranger to war, he served in the trenches as a British soldier during World War I. Following his stint in the British Army he enrolled in the Royal College of Art in London studying under Francis Derwent Wood before furthering his studies in Rome. His experiences in Italy can be seen through his stunning reliefs. In 1923 he was invited to Australia by Sir George Frampton to take up the position of Director of the sculpture and Drawing at the East Sydney Technical College. Hoff and Daphne Mayo (sculptor of the Queensland Woman's War Memorial) were invited to submit proposals for the ANZAC Memorial. Hoff was eventually commissioned after Mayo declined, due to her busy workload.  The twenty granite figures which adorn the outside of the Memorial each depict military personnel including two nurses. It wasn't surprising that Hoff decided not to add two other sculptures of which one depicted a naked woman hanging from a cross.

Interesting Points to Note : There are no names of any soldiers at this memorial, instead there are 120,000 stars placed in the ceiling dome, representing each military volunteer of World War I. The idea of the "stars" was originally as a way to raise additional money for the Memorial. People could purchase them for 2 shillings each. Unfortunately the idea didn't work as a fund raiser but they went ahead with the idea anyway.

Two of Hoff's sculptures, which were to be displayed on the eastern and western sides of the memorial, were never even cast in bronze. "Victory After Sacrifice" and the "Crucifixtion of Civilization" caused such a stir, mainly from the Catholic church, that a decision was made not to go ahead with the casting. It was bad enough that the sculpture "Sacrifice" inside the memorial was deemed immoral, revolting and offensive. For those who were wondering the "Victory After Sacrifice" was to depict a female (representing Australia) standing next to Britannia and at their feet the dead soldiers who sacrificed their lives for victory. "The Crucifixion of Civilization" was to depict a naked woman (representing peace) hanging from a cross with dead soldiers and destroyed weapons at her feet.

Did you know that sculptor Rayner Hoff was responsible for the Holden Australian car company emblem. Yes, that stylised 'Lion and Stone' symbol !


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