The Centre is named after General Sir John Monash, who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western Front in 1918, including the famous 4 July 1918 victory at Le Hamel, which became a template for operations that followed.
Located at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France, the Centre will be the central hub of the existing Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, which links First World War sites of significance to Australia, including museums, battlefields, memorials and cemeteries.
“Rising Sun” and “Morning Star” to shine in France
The Rising Sun Glass Sculpture, by award-winning glass artist Lisa Cahill, is an achievement in structural engineering, mounted on a totem, with each ray resting upon the next. It is 170cm wide and 80cm high, with 28 individually cast lead-crystal rays produced angular forms and light projections and can be viewed from either side.
Minimal decoration allows the viewer to focus on the Rising Sun symbol and the solemnity of the occasion.
The rays will be visible through each other, creating depth and shadow. The amber colour mimics the glow of the Rising Sun. Three-dimensional objects pick up and reflect the surrounding natural light and act as a beacon as the viewer approached from the darkness below.
The textures are reminiscent of the muddy fields and the surrounding terrain where the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux was fought.
The Morning Star Tapestry, measuring 2.4 x 5m was handwoven at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne and will provide a lasting legacy in perpetuity commemorating the 46,000 Australian lives lost and those who fought in the battles of the Western Front in World War 1 and commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.
The tapestry was designed by prominent Australian artists Lyndell Brown and Charles Green who have been war artists in Iraq and Afghanistan and have had over 30 exhibitions in Australia and internationally.
Work commenced in April 2017 and took the team of weavers more than 4000 hours to complete. International weavers travelled to Australia to weave on the tapestry as part of a unique creative and cultural exchange.
The artists deliberately chose to make the images almost monochromatic – very tonal with a subtle but definite minimum of colour. The overall image is dawn light during winter illuminating a pathway through eucalypt trees and bush towards sunlight, and features inset images of young men who were about to enlist and war-bound ships departing Australia.
The wool was sourced from sustainable producers in Australia and was dyed on site into more than 370 colours, shades and tones, including soft pastels which add complexity.
The Sir John Monash Centre in France was officially opened on 25 April 2018.