A reception to officially launch the Melbourne Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial will take place at the Victorian Parliament on 30 October – 95 years to the day after the armistice that ended hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre of WWI was signed in Mudros Bay, Lemnos.
The ambitious project – to establish a monumental tribute to Lemnos’ story in WWI – is set to coincide with the Centenary of Anzac in 2015 and is being co-ordinated by the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee.
Formed in 2011, the committee’s priority has been to create a fitting memorial on Melbourne’s waterfront to the nurses and 60,000 ANZAC troops who served on Lemnos during the Great War.
The island of Lemnos was the Allies’ main embarkation point for the Gallipoli landings in 1915 and the major supply base and field hospital throughout the Dardanelles campaign.
Joining guest speakers Ted Baillieu MP and broadcaster Derryn Hinch at Parliament House will be sculptor Peter Corlett OAM who has been commissioned to produce the memorial.
Corlett’s most famous works includes the bronze sculpture Simpson and his donkey, 1915 that stands in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial, and the Cobbers statue erected at Fromelles in northern France, a version of which can be seen at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.
The final larger-than-life bronzes for the Lemnos memorial, which will take 12 months to produce, are destined for a plot near the waterfront in Port Melbourne – the location where so many servicemen and women left for duty overseas in both the First and Second World War.
At the 30 October launch, Peter Corlett will unveil a maquette of the proposed Lemnos statue depicting an Australian nurse standing and an ANZAC soldier in her care beside her.
The memorial’s 3 metre by 3.2 metre site – recommended by the City of Port Phillip – will comprise a sandstone base to support the two sculptures, interpretive texts, a map of Lemnos, and flagpoles – for use during commemorative events.
Organisers estimate that a minimum of $200,000 will be required to cover the cost of the bronzes and the memorial’s installation.
The Parliament House launch has been organised to present the project to potential supporters and donors – both large and small. Tickets cost $100, with proceeds going directly to the project.
Lee Tarlamis MP, a founding member of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee, told Neos Kosmos that the monument would tell a vital Australian and Greek story still largely unrecognised.
“This will pay tribute to the role that Lemnos played in the Gallipoli campaign and acknowledge the fact that Australian nurses and soldiers were there.
“It’ll be a focal point to continue to educate people about this important part of our history,” said Mr Tarlamis, who added that the project’s funding plan allowed major sponsors to be acknowledged at the memorial site, but that all contributors would be listed in a commemorative publication. A number of individuals have already pledged donations of $10,000.
The federal government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program which assists communities across Australia to undertake their own centenary projects will also be approached.
The program allows funding of up to $125,000 for each federal MP to support projects in their electorate which commemorate Australian duty and sacrifice in WWI.
Michael Danby, the Federal Member for Melbourne Ports in which the memorial will be erected, told Neos Kosmos: “While the ANZACs’ battles in Greece during WWII are well known, few Australians are aware that the WWI ANZAC story has a Greek element. The erection of a memorial by the community to Lemnos’ role in WWI will highlight this little known aspect of the ANZAC story.”
Mr Danby will establish a local committee to consider applications under the Centenary program in the coming months.
Meanwhile Peter Corlett – shedding light on his approach to the memorial’s design – told Neos Kosmos that his concept included referencing both the island of Lemnos’ geology and Greek antiquity.
“To honour and invoke elements of Lemnos itself, the blocks of sandstone will be aged to make them look like they come from the classical period, and the bronzes will also be finished with a classical feel,” says Mr Corlett, whose father served on the Western Front in WWI.
“My statues are not about weapons and violence and aggression, they’re about compassion and caring, so this Lemnos one fits perfectly.”
The Melbourne Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial launch takes place between 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm on Wednesday 30 October 2013, Room K – Parliament House. Organisers extend a warm invitation for anyone wishing to support the project to attend.
Tickets and further details are available from Lee Tarlamis on 0411 553 009 or Jim Claven on 0409 402388.