When I last visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra late last year I took the opportunity to walk through the Sculpture Garden. With Anzac Day looming I thought I’de share some of my photos and their stories.
Elevation of the Senses, was created by Sculptor/Painter Ewen Coates, and immortalises the special moment between a soldier and his dog.
These dogs help save lives as they help their handlers find improvised explosive devices, ammunition, and weapons.
From the AWM:
“ The tunnel through the base of the sculpture alludes to the rigorous training undertaken by the dogs, while the rocky outcrops atop the columns represent the foreign landscapes to which the dogs and their handlers are deployed. The elevation of the dog on the central column, where it crouches eye-to-eye with its handler, highlights the deep bonds that are forged between the two, as well as the mutual dependence on which their work is based.
Within the main column itself is a hidden cache of weapons, visible only from the back of the sculpture to illustrate the danger of buried IEDs or hidden weapons that the dogs find with their heightened sense of smell. Next to the pair is a duffel bag and a tennis ball, an integral part of the dog’s training, as well as a valuable reward when the animal has located explosives.”
Inscribed on the side of the sculpture are the names of Australian explosive detection dogs that have been killed in operations – Merlin, Razz, Andy, Nova, Lucky and Herbie. There is also a human name – Sapper Darren Smith, who died with his beloved dog Herbie in Afghanistan in June 2010. Herbie, Darren, and Sapper Jacob Moreland were investigating metal signature on the footpad of a creek bed, when an IED was triggered. The blast killed Herbie, and mortally wounded Darren Smith and Jacob Moreland.
Mesmerising and made this old heart flutter.
(Note: With Anzac Day comes all the usual controversies, and this year is no exception. The Freedom-of-Speechers are already out in force and I refer to a particular wanker in an educational and leadership role at a southern university. No identification here ; your 15 minutes of fame was 15 minutes too long).