AUTRALIAN TURKISH FRIENDSHIP
The Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial Sculpture, ‘Seeds of Friendship’, was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.
Located on Birdwood Avenue in the Kings Domain, Melbourne—and in close proximity to the Shrine of Remembrance—the memorial creates a place for contemplation on the impact of war, and provides a platform for current and future generations from both Australia and Turkey to reflect on the respect and friendship resulting from a shared history.
The sculpture is the product of 5 years of collaboration between the artist, Matthew Harding, Tectura’s Serdar Baycan and Elizabeth Grigg as project convenors, and the Victorian and Turkish sub-branches of the RSL.
The sculpture’s final material form represents the Australian-Turkish relationship. A sweeping 3.8 metre curve of interwoven stainless steel strands symbolises the laying of a commemorative wreath, while two hand-carved granite stone seed cones—a pine from Turkey, which is synonymous with the battlefields of Gallipoli, and an Australian casuarina seed–lay side by side to represent the fallen from both sides of the conflict.
A circular ground plane unifies the various design elements, with prominent inscriptions giving both Turkish and Australian perspectives engraved around the edges of the granite base. Charles Bean articulates a nation’s pride in the bravery of its fallen men, while Mustafa Kemal Atatürk offers words of comfort to the mothers who lost their sons at Gallipoli. These sentiments are overlaid with ‘fallen pine needles’, offering further epitaphs and memoirs taken from letters, diaries, speeches and tombstones from Anzac and Turkish soldiers and their families.
An extensive fundraising program organised by Serdar and Elizabeth saw generous funding from the Victorian Government’s Anzac Centenary Major Grants Fund and the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund; the Australian Government’s ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program and Saluting their Service Major Commemorative Grants Program; the Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry’s Promotion Fund; and a series of donations from community members.
Both State and Federal governments took a bi-partisan approach in their support for the memorial. In particular the former Victorian Premier, the Hon Ted Baillieu, and the Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs, Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson, have taken a long-standing interest in the project.
The community-driven nature and socially cohesive objectives of the project were recognised at the Premier’s Design Awards, where ‘Seeds of Friendship’ was selected as a finalist in two categories.
To find out more about the project, go to:
Australian Turkish Memorial