Artwork tells tale of lost Anzac love

For the Diggers caught in the horrors of World War I the only way of keeping connected to loved ones waiting anxiously at home was the written word.

Countless letters were exchanged between soldiers on duty in the trenches of Gallipoli or the Western Front and loved ones back in Australia.

And sadly, countless letters about Diggers were exchanged between the military authorities and the families of soldiers who were never to make it home.

Now the love expressed and sentiments carried in the letters will become central to a sculpture commissioned as part of the commemoration of the centenary of the start of the war in 1914.

The letters have inspired a sculpture by artists Arif Satar and Audrey Fernandes-Satar. It will be installed at Mt Adelaide, Albany, high above the waters through which thousands of Diggers sailed in 1914 on their way to the battlefields.

The sculpture is aluminium into which stylised text has been cut, placed atop a granite plinth, containing inscribed text from selected postcards and letters from WWI Diggers.

Satar said the sculpture's form was inspired by a crumpled piece of paper recovered from a rubbish bin while he and Fernandes-Satar were working on early plans for the piece.

Fernandes-Satar said that it had been moving to read the stories contained in the letters.

Among the letters featured is an exchange between Matilda Jackson and the army about the death in battle of her husband William John Jackson.

Many Aboriginal men who tried to enlist in the early part of the war were rejected on the grounds of race.

But in June 1915, before the restriction on Aboriginal soldiers was eased, Jackson joined the 28th Battalion and left four children with his wife when he sailed for the war. He saw action at Gallipoli and the Western Front, where he was admitted to hospital for trench foot in November 1916.

Jackson was killed in action the day after he returned to duty that month.

Satar said the sculpture would include part of a letter his wife sent about what she wanted on his headstone: Loved in life, honoured in death, cherished in memory.

Jackson's granddaughters Kathy Louthean and Barbara Carter said they were proud that his service and sacrifice had been recognised and included as part of the sculpture.

The West Australian

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