Liam Hollis is the winner of the 2017 Chief Minister's ANZAC Prize for 2017
“With a Dash and Determination”
ANZAC Spirit Prize 2017 – Rationale Liam Hollis Year 9,
Canberra High School
Recounts of the First World War, and the Western Front in particular, provide a distinct insight into the brutal atrocities of conflict for young Australians. One century ago, many of our young and innocent were locked in the tense and bloody impasse, in a web of trenches stretching from Belgium to Switzerland. This protracted tug of war is most aptly reflected in the 1918 battles around Villers-Bretonneux, a true example of selfless bravery.
The German offensive on Villers-Bretonneux commenced in late March, but they only took the town on 24 April – driving British and Australian forces back to D’Arquenne Wood. However, the Australian 15th Brigade (5th Division) – supported by the 14th Brigade – flanked and ambushed the German forces. South of the town, the 13th Brigade (4th Division) also forced the opposition back. At dawn on 25 April, the Germans retreated, realising their lost cause. A photograph taken at the time depicts an unidentified soldier observing the wrecked town church (unnamed, 1918).
The sculpture I created blends the Gallic rooster and the Rising Sun insignia – both symbols of loyalty and national pride . The young soldiers, in those abysmal trenches, held those insignia highly and proudly. The Gallic rooster was often depicted in French popular culture of the time, fiercely battling the German eagle – sometimes used in satire, but always representing the French national pride. The wing of the rooster blends into the rays of the Rising Sun – the proud symbol of our gallant Australian soldiers on the Western Front.
The sculpture’s steel construction represents the strength of our relationship with France, but also the unwavering courage and resilience of the soldiers. Time has aged and changed our relationship, reflected in the sculpture’s rusting surfaces. The rust also reminds us of the hardship and sacrifice that is a permanent part of our Australian identity, but which does nothing to weaken its core strength. Metal rivets hold the form together, reminiscent of technology used during the Great War, including in heavy weaponry on the Western Front. I set myself a challenge by using steel and rivets, having not previously worked with these media.
While its two-dimensional form is reminiscent of a military badge, it stands on a rough-hewn wooden block, worn by time just like the rusted metal. The block’s weight and cubic shape also characterise the stability of our relationship. It is permanently etched with words that reflect the hard-fought victory in Villers Bretonneux – the words of General Rawlinson, noted in the war diary after the battle, at 1:30am on 26 April (Rawlinson, Australian Imperial Forces War Unit Diaries, 1918).
“It was a difficult operation and was carried out with a dash and determination which does them the greatest credit.” – General Rawlinson, 5th Australian Division.
The sculpture as a whole depicts the courage, sacrifice and resilience of those who fought on the Western Front, and represents the strong bond between Australia and France that will last through many future generations.
ANZAC Spirit Prize 2017 – Rationale Liam Hollis, Year 9, Canberra High School 2
Ineka Voigt of Year 10 is the National winner of the Doodle 4 Google competition. Ineka’s entry was one of 26,000 entries from throughout Australia. Her winning entry will be displayed on the Google site world-wide on Australia Day.