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Swansea RSL Rising Sun Anzac Memorial

Artists Concept

We responded enthusiastically to the invitation to create a design for an Onslow Anzac Memorial, in which this strange feature became the dramatic centerpiece of the whole concept.  Quite simply, we were inspired by the Rising Sun insignia of the Australian armed forces and developed a three dimensional ‘portal’ sculpture, based on this, in natural steel which captured the dawn light of Anzac Day as it rose, dramatically, over Onslow Bay.


Our design is a simple ‘Gateway of the Rising Sun’, carefully proportioned in form and scale, appropriate to the site on Beadon Point.  The entire function of the memorial was dependent on the sun rising exactly central, within the six metre high arch at the centre of the memorial.  Anything other than 100 per cent accuracy would have completely spoiled the whole concept.  Our difficulty was the fact that we would be installing the memorial many months before Anzac Day and so, needed to know exactly where the sun would rise on April 25th.


Achieving such accuracy, many months before Anzac Day, was a surprisingly difficult technical feat of Astrophysics.  All praise for achieving this, must go to the then Shire Engineer, Jeffery Breen.  The nail- biting tension in the dark hours preceding the dawn light on the dedication day of April 25, 2008, was felt by all who attended.  As was the sense of wonder when the flaming orb of our star silently appeared exactly centre stage within the memorial arch: a fitting and lasting testimony to Jeff’s surveying skills.


It was a sad day for us, the artists, as we could not attend the dedication due to a severe accident suffered by Joan.


As a measure of the success of the memorial design we can point to the fact that an average attendance at the dawn service on Beadon Point in Onslow, prior to the memorial being built, was in the region of 50 to 60 people.  Over 600 people attended last year’s ceremony and the fame of the Onslow Anzac Memorial has spread far and wide in Australia.


As a consequence, the Shire of Ashburton was approached by Swansea RSL in New South Wales, who wanted permission to recreate our memorial on the east coast.  The Shire of Ashburton, passed the request to us as the owners of the intellectual property of the memorial.  Our first reaction was a negative one, as we like to preserve the individual uniqueness of our sculptures.


Upon reflection however, we began to see the germ of an idea which had the potential to create the largest Anzac Memorial in Australia!  This was to build an exact replica of the Onslow Memorial in the Swansea RSL in New South Wales but only if the communities mutually agreed to a ‘twinning’ commitment of both memorials, as being two parts of a single ‘whole’ spanning the full width of the Australian continent!


Our concept was to create this unique Anzac Memorial by connecting the two Dawn Services.  Although two hours apart on Anzac morning. It’s very important for people to understand that this Memorial in Swansea NSW, is the ‘Eastern Gateway’ to what is now the largest Anzac Memorial in Australia. It spans the entire Country, with the ‘Western Gateway’ located at Beadon point, Onslow in the Shire of Ashburton WA.


The sun rising in the archway here, is repeated in Onslow in 2 hours time when the people gathered there for the Dawn Service see the sun rise in exactly the same Memorial arch, which in itself is based on the Army Insignia: The Rising Sun emblem.


Thus, this memorial is unique in its entirety and we intend to develop the connection between the two ‘Gateways’, further, over the next 4 years of the Anzac 100th Commemoration. We hope to have a major combined Peace ceremony on Armistice Day 2018 in which the dawn, rising in both arches, will herald in a new era of peace and prosperity for our children and grandchildren…. on into future generations.


Lest we forget!

Charles Smith & Joan Walsh-Smith








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