A sculptural work in memorial to the grievous losses of the First World War and a reflection on the idea of 'victory' in war. Now exhibiting in Europe.
‘Victory Medal’, Sculptor Helen Pollock, Wellington Botanic Gardens: Victory Medal is installed in Messines Town Square, Belgium to commemorate the Battle of Messines in June 2017. It will remain in the Messines Town Square also commemorating La Basse-ville, July 2017, 's Graventafel, Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele, October 2017 and Polderhoek, December 2017 (leading to the final withdrawal of the New Zealanders from Belgium February 1918).
‘Victory Medal’ honours our forebears who fought in the First World War; those who died and those who returned with their lives blighted and shortened by the experience of war. ‘Victory Medal’ acknowledges all of our heroes.
Thirty six pairs of feet, the number of a small platoon, stand on a rusted steel ‘medal’ in four sections, creating a cross formation. The feet are moulded from rough unprocessed New Zealand clay into a ‘cohesive fighting unit’. They are torn, distressed and fired under intense heat over a period of three days, and permanently altered and hardened. They are sinewed foot-sloggers' ‘feet’.
One pair of feet is cast in bronze – a ‘recognised hero’. - Helen Pollock
The Victory Medal tour
Victory Medal has been touring in the provinces of New Zealand since the beginning of the First World War centenary: Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne; Toitū Settlers Museum, Dunedin; Nelson Provincial Museum; Wellington Botanic Garden - Remembrance Ridge.
As did the young men of the provinces a century ago, Victory Medal has left New Zealand for the sea voyage to Europe. It has crossed the countryside of Northern France and Belgium, for installation in the three battlefield towns of Arras, Messines and Le Quesnoy.
- Arras, France: March to June 2017, Place des Heroes, commemorating the Battle of Arras on 9 June and the NZ Tunnellers at Arras. In this installation it was surrounded by a field of ‘poppies’ – red discs designed by Tony McNeight, and with commemorative messages, it became Le Coquelicot de Paix. Its unveiling on the Centenary of the Battle of Arras was attended by the then French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. New Zealand was represented by the Attorney General Christopher Finlayson. Watch the unveiling ceremony here.
- Le Quesnoy, France: 4 November 2018 onwards to commemorate the liberation of Le Quesnoy by the NZ Division in the grounds of the proposed NZ Memorial Museum.
The tour has the endorsement of the Kingdom of Belgium, and former Prime Minister Helen Clark, Auckland RSA, and the NZ Military Historical Society and funding from the New Zealand France Friendship Fund for World War One Commemorations and New Zealand Lotteries Commission.
Artist Helen Pollock greeted by the Governor-General of New Zealand.
Short address by the New Zealand Ambassador.
Blessing of the artwork.
Roses were laid around the sculpture.
And a few more pictures before the New Zealand soldier on the market square.
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