17 August 2011

National memorials process to get a going over.

| johnboy
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There’s been an increasing issue for Canberra residents that people outside Canberra (at best enthusiasts, at worst not far off con men) have been projecting their own fantasies onto our city in ways that have not been welcome for the most part.

Immigration Bridge springs to mind but is by no means alone.

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh has blogged that the National Capital and External Territories Committee has been asked by Simon Crean to examine the process for choosing National Memorials.

The’re taking a swing at these points:

1. To inquire into, and report on:

The administration of the National Memorials Ordinance 1928 (the Ordinance), with particular reference on:

o The membership of the Canberra National Memorials Committee (CNMC);

o The process for decision-making by the CNMC;

o Mechanisms for the CNMC to seek independent, expert advice; and

o Opportunities for improving transparency in the administration of the Ordinance.

— The appropriate level of parliamentary oversight for proposed National Memorials.
— The appropriate level of public participation in the development of proposed National Memorials.

2. If changes to current arrangements are recommended, inquire into and report on transition provisions for current proposals for memorials which have not yet been constructed.

They’re taking submissions until 9 September 2011. Details are on the committee website.

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I quite like the memorials on Anzac Parade, that’s what it’s for, at any rate. The navy one with all the water pouring out of it is amazing, and i quite like the understated one opposite the AWM, seems to have a Greek flag on it.

But two upended blocks of flats on the lake foreshore? That needs to be stopped, inappropriate for the position.

Memorials should be respectful and dignified, like a handshake and a warm smile. Obviously some seem to think that they should be more like a punch in the face.

A couple of years back, on a cold and grey, drizzly day in London, I looked through Westminster Abbey. A grand, inspiring space, but at floor level it is full of the most appalling clutter. Overblown memorials to long dead earls and colonels and minor royalty crowd the cathedral.

Do we really want our beautiful city to be crammed with statues and plinths and art of dubious appeal, all monumental in scale?

One of the best things the NCA did in recent years was to lower the wall at Rond Terraces, so motorists on Parkes Way could see over the lake to the buildings of the Parliamentary Triangle. As a taxidriver carrying visitors to Canberra, I take that roundabout slowly so that my passengers can admire the view. If we have two great big 20 metre tall slabs blocking out the scenery, we are the poorer for them.

I know that the backers have prepared artwork showing the things blending into the trees, but from Parkes Way and Constitution Avenue they are just going to be two blocks of flats upended and stuck in the way. Just imagine these things, six stories tall, next time you go along Parkes Way.

If we gave every committee and association their way, we would have big things making grand statements everywhere.

I’m not anti-memorials per se, but they should be in keeping with both the theme and the landscape. Two very good ones spring to mind:

On Anzac Parade, we have the Service Nurses Memorial, its curved green glass walls enfolding the visitor in peace. It is appropriate in every way. And across the road, we have two monsters – the huge slabs of the Vietnam Memorial, and the Australian Army Memorial, two massive square-jawed diggers swinging their rifles. I detest them.

In Washington DC, their Vietnam memorial is one of the most loved and elegant designs ever. It sinks into the ground, a long V of polished stone bearing the names of those Americans lost in Vietnam. Those who have visited it can attest to the hush and magic there.

A little further up the Mall is the National WW2 Monument, which looks like something Benito Mussolini would have built. Fifty columns, arches, fountains, flagpoles, walls, staircases, it sprawls over what was once a lawn where people gathered. It is a frozen waste in winter, the fountains and pools turned to ice and in summer it is a baking pan. I hate it.

If we must have memorials, let them be ones to love. Low walls and spaces that form part of the landscape, not tower and stride over it with triumphant scorn.

I dunno, that clutter of the causes of yesteryear is a thing called history. I’m a fan within limits.

The stuff that impinges on the skyline? different matter.

matt31221 said :

Are these outsiders responsible for the Belconnen choad? Because that is what it is from one angle, a giant semi erect penis. An owl my ar*e, surely someone was taking the piss?

No, that’s ACT govt. National memorials are on NCA controlled land – Anzac Pde, lake foreshore, Parliamentary Triangle.

That’s one Ordinance that is long overdue for amendment.

Are these outsiders responsible for the Belconnen choad? Because that is what it is from one angle, a giant semi erect penis. An owl my ar*e, surely someone was taking the piss?

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