CBD014D-03.jpg (74300 bytes) Sydney Architecture Images- Central Business District

Anzac War Memorial 


C.Bruce Dellit, sculptur Rayner Hoff


Hyde Park South




Inter-War Art Deco




This is one of Sydney’s most interesting Art Deco buildings. Designed by Bruce Dellit, it was opened in 1934. It contains sculptures by an English-born migrant, Raynor Hoff. His beautiful interior statue called ‘Sacrifice’ depicts a group of three women supporting a dead soldier - the givers of life, weighed down by death. This is often interpreted as a powerful peace symbol, and at the time of building this memorial generated a lot of debate. The memorial contains no names, but 120,000 stars in the ceiling dome represent those from NSW who served.
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The ANZAC War Memorial is Sydney's main commemorative military monument.

Designed by C. Bruce Dellit, completed in 1934 and adorned with monumental figural reliefs and sculptures by Rayner Hoff it is arguably the finest Art Deco public building in Australia.

The memorial is located at the southern extremity of Hyde Park on the eastern edge of Sydney's central business district, and it is the focus of commemoration ceremonies on ANZAC Day, Armistice Day and other important occasions.

The building is constructed of concrete, with an exterior cladding of pink granite, and consists of a massed square superstructure with typically Art Deco set-backs and buttresses, punctuated on each side by a large arched window of yellow stained glass, and crowned with a ziggurat-inspired stepped roof. It is positioned atop a cruciform pedestal within which are located administrative offices and a small museum.

The interior is largely faced in white marble, and features a domed ceiling adorned with 120,000 gold stars - one for each of New South Wales' military volunteers during World War 1. Access to the main hall is provided via broad stairways on each side of the building's north-south axis, while ground-level doorways on the east and west sides offer entry to the lower section.

The main focus of the interior is Rayner Hoff's monumental bronze sculpture of a deceased youth, representing a soldier, held aloft on his shield by three female figures, representing his mother, sister and wife. The male figure's nudity was considered shocking at the time of the monument's opening, and it is said to be the only such representation of a naked male form within any war memorial. Two other even more controversial figural sculptures designed by Hoff - one featuring a naked female figure - were never installed on the eastern and western faces of the structure as intended, partly as a result of opposition from high ranking local Catholic Church representatives.

The building's exterior is adorned with several bronze friezes, carved granite relief panels and twenty monumental stone figural sculptures symbolising military personnel, also by Hoff.

Immediately to the north of the ANZAC Memorial is a large rectangular "Lake of Reflections" flanked by rows of poplars. Original plans called for the construction of similar pools on each of the other sides of the building, but these were never built.

The term ANZAC in the memorial's name is an acyronym for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps", which was the original name for the combined corps of Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in World War I.
The Anzac War Memorial was designed by C Bruce Dellit (1900-1942), winning first prize in one of the most prestigious architectural competitions of the day. Twenty nine years old in his second year of practice, the young architect imagined a monumental and highly sculptured design which broke away from revivalist traditions. It caused an uproar in the local architectural fraternity.

Located on the central axis of Hyde Park South (missing the underground railway), the Memorial was made possible after a protracted fund raising program initiated in 1919. Dellit's design in Bathurst granite is highly symbolic, with representational sculptures depicting events and personnel involved in World War 1. The memorial can be approached from four directions, the North and South approaches consist of grand staircases which lead to the upper circular Hall of Memory' (with its unique wreath like balustrade). The East and West entries lead to the lower circular Hall of Silence', featuring the sculpture representing the Sacrifice'. In the upper space, the visitors are compelled to look downwards, causing their head to be reverently and naturally bowed.

The statuary, sculptures and bas-reliefs were the work of English born artist Raynor Hoff. Above the east and west portals are bronze bas-relief panels which depict the activities and campaigns of the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF). Eastern Front campaigns are represented on the east portal, including Gallipoli, laying of railway, Army Service Corps, Army Medical Corps, Light Horse, Camel Corps, Signal Units, Infantry, Artillery, Machine Gunners and the Pioneers. The record of the AIF on the Western Front shown on the west portal includes the Air Force, Cycle Corps, Artillery, Army Medical Corps, Bombers, Engineers, Tank Corps, Pioneers and Infantry.

Each of the sixteen granite buttresses is surmounted by cast granite figures, saddened and reflecting the loss caused by war.

Information appearing in this section is reproduced from Sydney Architecture, with the kind permission of the author, Graham Jahn, a well-known Sydney architect and former City of Sydney Councillor. Sydney Architecture, rrp $35.00, is available from all good book stores or from the publisher, Watermark Press, Telephone: 02 9818 5677

Peace offering that shocked the church
April 19, 2004

Rayner Hoff's sculpture Sacrifice, depicting the body of a young soldier held aloft on his shield. 

Sydney has been denied a magnificent sculpture that has a powerful message, writes Paul Sheehan.

Immoral. Revolting. Offensive. With these words, the Catholic Church killed off one of the most powerful and evocative memorials Sydney has seen. This is a good week - the lead-up to Australia's true holy day, April 25 - to examine why this loss occurred and why it would probably occur again today.

One of Australia's most overlooked artistic treasures, the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, was best described by the art historian, Professor Virginia Spate, when she wrote in 1999: "Even incomplete, [it] is the most perfect sculptural monument in Australia." It remains incomplete 70 years after it was opened in 1934 because of pressure from the opposite end of Hyde Park, St Mary's Cathedral.

In 1930, the most gifted, even sensational, sculptor in Australia, Rayner Hoff, who had emigrated from England in 1923, was commissioned to create a group of sculptures and friezes for the as-yet unbuilt Anzac Memorial. A magnificent Hoff sculpture, Sacrifice, depicting the body of a young soldier held aloft on his shield by his grieving mother, sister and wife, is the central image of the memorial. It has not aged. It is still glorious. 

But there are gaps in this building, gaps described at the time by the memorial's young architect, Bruce Dellit, as being "like a countenance without an eye". He was referring to the absence of two dramatic bronze sculptures by Hoff that were to have been outside on the eastern and western walls of the memorial. The stone pedestals are there, but nothing is on them.

The sculpture that caused the sensation, The Crucifixion of Civilisation, is pictured below. It is shocking. A naked figure on a cross, a young woman, sits atop a pyramid of broken soldiers, corpses, weapons, helmets, the debris of battle. The detail is hyper-real and brilliantly executed. Hoff described the symbolism of his central figure: "Adolescent Peace is depicted crucified on the armaments of the ravisher, the war god, Mars. The Greek helmet animalistically gapes over the head of expiring Peace, the cuirass of the body armour hard and brutal in contrast to her lithe woman's body."

Lithe women's bodies have always caused problems for the Catholic Church, and Hoff's depictions of the human body were intrinsically sensual. (His famous 1924 sculpture, Faun and Nymph, part of the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW, is basically pornographic.) This particular lithe naked woman was especially problematic.

The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Michael Sheehan, announced that he would not be attending the laying of the foundation stone on July 19, 1932. The memorial, he said, was "obviously intended only for Protestants". As for the young woman on the cross, this image was "gravely offensive to ordinary Christian decency".

Archbishop Sheehan told the Herald the sculpture was "a travesty of the Redemption". His private secretary, Francis O'Donnell, was more florid, telling the Herald: "What we object to particularly is the figure of the woman, which is immoral and revolting in a memorial like that."

Another senior Catholic prelate, an archbishop Kelly, used the sculpture to condemn the growing "animal passion" in Australian society. An Anglican chaplain chimed in that the sculpture would be offensive to "the whole spirit of Christendom".

The trustees of the Anzac Memorial blinked. Archbishop Sheehan's comments about "Protestants" and "decency" were too much for civic leaders of a society divided by Irish sectarian opposition to the enormously bloody cost expended on a British war in distant Europe. Hoff's sculptures were withdrawn from the final design. The huge castes were stored away.

"They were put in the vaults of the Commonwealth Bank, on Martin Place, for safekeeping," John Sheehan, the general manager of the RSL (NSW) and a trustee of the memorial, told me. "They stayed there for 37 years. But in 1967 they disappeared. There are all sorts of theories about what happened. They may have fallen apart. They may have been broken up. No explanation was given." (Note: the excessive number of Sheehans in this column is coincidence. They are not related.)

Lost, too, was the caste of the other sculpture, Victory After Sacrifice, which though similar in design, and even including a dead nurse in its pyramid of corpses, did not generate controversy. The central female figure was partly clothed, was not hanging from a cross.

In 1965, when Hoff's castes were still in the vaults of the Commonwealth Bank, the trustees of the Anzac Memorial wrote to the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, cardinal Norman Gilroy, to ask about completing the memorial with the missing sculptures. "The response," according to the memorial's manager, Greg Read, "was that the church's position was unchanged." (Read is also the custodian of the 120,000 stars in the Dome of Stars, one for each of the 120,000 men from NSW who volunteered to serve in World War I, most of whom either died or were wounded. "There are not quite 120,000 stars," said Read, "because about a dozen of them have fallen out, but I've got them in my desk." Presumably they will be returned to the dome during the $2.5 million restoration the State Government will fund during the next five years.)

As for the Catholic Church, it took nearly a century to complete its own much larger and more grand edifice on the other side of Hyde Park. Before the Sydney Olympics in 2000 the two stumps on each side of the front entrance of St Mary's Cathedral finally became what they were designed to be, the bases for two soaring stone spires. But thanks to Catholic leadership, two other stumps remain at the opposite end of Hyde Park. On the eastern and western sides of the Anzac Memorial, empty ledges sit beneath the large stained-glass windows. They were meant to be the foundations for The Crucifixion of Civilisation and Victory After Sacrifice.

The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park is unfinished.

Copyright SMH
What is ANZAC Day? 
ANZAC Day - 25 April - is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day. 

Why is this day so special to Australians? 
When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war. 

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking Turkey out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops' actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity of both nations. This shaped the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

Early commemorations
The date, 25 April, was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916; in that year it was marked by a wide variety of ceremonies and services in Australia, a march through London, and a sports day in the Australian camp in Egypt. In London, over 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets of the city. A London newspaper headline dubbed them "The knights of Gallipoli". Marches were held all over Australia in 1916. Wounded soldiers from Gallipoli attended the Sydney march in convoys of cars, attended by nurses. For the remaining years of the war, ANZAC Day was used as an occasion for patriotic rallies and recruiting campaigns, and parades of serving members of the AIF were held in most cities.

During the 1920s, ANZAC Day became established as a national day of commemoration for the 60,000 Australians who died during the war. The first year in which all the States observed some form of public holiday together on ANZAC Day was 1927. By the mid-1930s all the rituals we today associate with the day - dawn vigils, marches, memorial services, reunions, sly two-up games - were firmly established as part of ANZAC Day culture.

With the coming of the Second World War, ANZAC Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians lost in that war as well, and in subsequent years the meaning of the day has been further broadened to include Australians killed in all the military operations in which Australia has been involved.

ANZAC Day was first commemorated at the Australian War Memorial in 1942, but due to government orders preventing large public gatherings in case of Japanese air attack, it was a small affair and was neither a march nor a memorial service. ANZAC Day has been annually commemorated at the Australian War Memorial ever since.

What does it mean today? 
Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national commemoration. Commemorative services are held at dawn, the time of the original landing, across the nation. Later in the day ex-servicemen and women meet and join in marches through the major cities and many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are held at war memorials around the country. It is a day when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.

Dawn Service 
The Dawn Service observed on ANZAC Day has its origins in an operational routine which is still observed by the Australian Army today. The half-light of dawn plays tricks with soldiers' eyes and from the earliest times the half-hour or so before dawn, with all its grey, misty shadows, became one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were therefore woken up in the dark, before dawn, so that by the time the first dull grey light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert and manning their weapons. This was, and still is, known as "Stand-to". It was also repeated at sunset.

After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, a dawn stand-to or dawn ceremony became a common form of ANZAC Day remembrance during the 1920s; the first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Dawn services were originally very simple and followed the operational ritual; in many cases they were restricted to veterans only. The daytime ceremony was for families and other well-wishers, the dawn service was for old soldiers to remember and reflect among the comrades with whom they shared a special bond. Before dawn the gathered veterans would be ordered to "stand to" and two minutes of silence would follow. At the end of this time a lone bugler would play the "Last Post" and then concluded the service with "Reveille". In more recent times the families and young people have been encouraged to take part in dawn services, and services in Australian capital cities have seen some of the largest turnouts ever. Reflecting this change, the ceremonies have become more elaborate, incorporating hymns, readings, pipers and rifle volleys. Others, though, have retained the simple format of the dawn stand-to, familiar to so many soldiers. 

The ANZAC Day ceremony 
Each year the commemorations follow a pattern that is familiar to each generation of Australians. A typical ANZAC Day service contains the following features: introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, recitation, "The last post", a period of silence, "The rouse" or "The reveille", and the National Anthem. At the Australian War Memorial, following events such as the ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services, families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial's Roll of Honour.

With thanks to http://www.awm.gov.au/index.asp