Chapter 7 Here Is Their Spirit: Contemporary Expressions of Grief at the Australian War Memorial

In: Grief, Identity, and the Arts
David Gist
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The Australian War Memorial is a unique institution, functioning as a memorial, archive, and museum. The national memorial to Australia’s war dead was established as a consequence of the carnage of the First World War, and as an attempt to assuage the grief felt by thousands of Australian families. The design and construction of the Australian War Memorial, and the monumental architecture that is now an integral part of its aesthetic experience, aimed to commemorate Australia’s war dead through promoting a deeper understanding of the conflict and of what Australia’s soldiers had endured, while promoting a focus for expressions of grief by rendering the dead symbolically present. Cultural transformation of Australian grief through the course of the 20th century together with the design objectives of the institution are helping facilitate the practice of votive items—objects, notes, and small assemblages—being anonymously deposited in the Memorial’s commemorative spaces. These items are examples of current trends in grieving practices and draw upon the limitless human capacity for creativity.

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Grief, Identity, and the Arts

A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Expressions of Grief

Series:  Death in History, Culture, and Society, Volume: 1


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