The Awe-Inspiring Marble Memorial to Fallen Aussie Soldiers

The Awe-Inspiring Marble Memorial to Fallen Aussie Soldiers
"Six More" 2011 by Alexander Seton
(Copyright Australian War Memorial)

Australian contemporary artist Alexander Seton is best known for his series of incredible hyper-realistic marble sculptures of pieces of clothing - one of which was modelled to appear like a  hoodie-wearing figure - that were exhibited at the Hong Kong International Art Fair in May.

It is his work Six more (2011), however, that may just end up being his most celebrated creation now that it is on display at the Australian War Memorial (AWA).  Acquired by the AWA in 2011, Six more consists of six highly realistic folded ceremonial flags carved from Queensland pear marble that commemorate Australian soldiers who have been killed in the Afghanistan war

Each of the marble flags represents a fallen soldier, whose name, without rank, is etched on the underside of one of the sculptures: Brett Wood, Andrew Jones, Marcus Case, Rowan Robinson, Todd Langley, and Matthew Lambert, all of whom died between 23 May and 22 August.

As well as being wonderfully beautiful works of art in their own right, Seton’s marble flag sculptures are also highly evocative and poignant reminders of the sacrifice that many young men have made for their country.

“I had created this work to emphasize the sheer number of Australian loses ongoing in the Afghanistan conflict. I don't think I had realized the full impact of what I had committed to, now I can hardly remove the flag from the individual it's meant to represent” said Seton.

The incredibly detailed sculptures, each made to resemble a woven flag complete with a halyard tied around its centre, also feature naturally occurring pink and orange veins and blushes that Seton utilises as a reference to human flesh.   

Ryan Johnston, Head of Art at the Memorial, says, “Six more is an extraordinary work. Seton has carved the marble to realistically reflect the appearance of a woven flag, while at the same time using the marble’s unique colouring and veins to evoke the human body. It’s not just a work of great sculptural skill, but a complex and meditative memorial to the soldiers.”

Six more is part of a series of sculptures. The earlier As of today commemorated 23 Australian soldiers who had been killed in the Afghanistan War. Flags are recurring images in Seton’s practice: he uses them to explore ideas and practices related to national identity, civic duty, and sacrifice.

Brett Wood’s medals, and the actual flag that accompanied Marcus Case’s body in Afghanistan, are on display in the Conflicts 1945 to today galleries.

Six more is on display in the Memorial’s Orientation gallery until January 2013.