The Role of Setting and Form in Western Australian War Memorials

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This paper examines the role of setting and form in the design and community meaning of Western Australian war memorials. From the flurry of community memorial building after the Great War to recent controversial Western Australian war memorials, the setting and space surrounding these places has been an integral part of memorial design and a significant point of community discussion and conflict. War memorials are a specific class of ‘place’ defined by particular spatial characteristics and physical and cultural forms. In Australia their locale, settings and physical characteristics are anchored to the traditions of Anzac and the legend of the ‘digger’ soldier who is a manifestation of Australian identity. War memorials are undergoing resurgent community interest in Australia with attendances at remembrance ceremonies increasing. The paper argues that the success of a memorial in evoking commemorative meaning and supporting ritual may be contingent on a use of narrative and particular iconography linked to their setting and design. By focussing on select Western Australian war memorials from the Great War to the present day this paper will explore the connections between memorial setting and form and its meaning to the community.


Keywords: War Remembrance, War Memorial, Design, Community Meaning
Stream: Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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John Richard Stephens

Associate Professor, Humanities
Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture, Curtin University of Technology

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

John Stephens is a teacher and researcher in the Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture at Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. He is active in heritage matters in Western Australia holding a number of statutory appointments in this field. His current research addresses the links between the symbolic and material characteristics of war memorials and practices of memorialisation.

Ref: H08P0308