When I read the brief for the 2015 Eumundi Sculpture Prize, Anzac Spirit, Past Present and Future, I must admit, I was ready to let this opportunity pass. Creating any size public work for the limited prize money on offer is difficult as I discovered with the Santos Acquisitive Sculpture Prize in the central Queensland town of Roma. Add to this the challenge of addressing such a complex and loaded theme as Anzac Spirit, the short timeframe for entries as well as all my other commitments and I felt it was really too much to ask.
My good friend Michael Leo called to remind me of the deadline and suggested I should enter some iteration of my “Buddha Bomb”. He’s a big fan of that work and is constantly discovering or inventing new and varied instances of cultural significance he believes it represents. I myself am not entirely convinced but I’m happy for Michael to continue his speculation. Ultimately, the power of any work lies in the significance others perceive in it. Based on his response alone the piece is a success, regardless of whatever feelings or intent I wished to express when I created it.
After briefly entertaining the idea, the pragmatics of budget and context were enough to convince me this wasn’t the time or place to further investigate that work. What followed was a series of discussions focussed on what, if not the Buddha Bomb, Michael and I could submit together. In truth, I can’t actually recall at what point I agreed to make a joint entry. On reflection, I suspect I was willing to entertain the thought, as an exercise in collaborative design, knowing that I wasn’t actually required to make a commitment until the deadline loomed. At some point however, I suppose it became a given.
Michael and I have a history that goes back some years. I‘ve assisted him with the detailing and visualisation of several small buildings and he helped design and build the extension to my own home. Michael has a lifetime of experience designing and building curved and twisted lightweight structures and though now semi-retired, his restless mind continues to flirt with new and refined construction methodologies and techniques. The form of the “Triune Shrine” is based on a four sided hypersurface Michael has named a “Quiddity”. Depending on the parameters defining the rake and pitch of each side, it’s theoretically possible to continue joining “Quiddities” together to make a structure of any size or configuration. The practicalities of design and construction however impose their own constraints, many of which remain unresolved. But realising this small application of the idea is well within the realms of possibility.
But the Triune Shrine is only one part of this submission and in reality is not itself the sculpture at all. While the structure’s three faces indicate a connection to the competition brief, the heart of the idea lies in the pile of small pebbles sheltering underneath. Each pebble represents an Anzac’s life lost in conflict (the Past), the collection of pebbles represents the current total of lives lost (the present) and the title of the work “Hopefully No Higher” represents the desire to see conflict cease (the Future). Intially, the shrine would be empty. Then in a ritual of remembrance, visitors would be asked take a stone and place it inside, slowly building the sculpture themselves.