Alex Seton | “Blood, sweat and tears” AWM commemorative sculpture

More than two years in the making, Sydney artist Alex Seton has finally completed a new contemporary sculptural commission for the Australian War Memorial’s Sculpture Garden that will be unveiled in a public dedication ceremony on the Memorial lawns in Canberra at 9.30am on 22 February. Titled For Every Drop Shed in Anguish, the commemorative sculpture is a far cry from the traditional heroic war statue. Instead, Seton has created a delicate field of eighteen marble droplets to convey the tears of Australian military personnel and their families.

Alex Seton, For Every Drop Shed in Anguish. Courtesy the artist and Australian War Memorial, Australian Capital Territory

The Memorial’s Project Manager and Senior Curator of Art, Anthea Gunn, said the artwork captures the complexities of suffering and war: “It is a public acknowledgement and point of connection to all who have suffered as a consequence of service. The colours and crystals that form the marble represent the scars so many live with every day, but show them as something beautiful, a symbol of resilience.”

For the artist, the faults in the marble represent the struggle of veterans and those who care for them: “I chose the dewdrop form for its fragility and tension. Every droplet has a particular shape, defined by its delicate surface tension, as if about to burst. But most importantly, when touched, these forms reveal themselves to have an inner strength and resilience that I hope can provide a promise of hope and healing.”

This commission follows on from Seton’s last sculptural monument, As of today . . . , 2011–14, that sits on display inside the Memorial. Hand carved out of marble are forty-seven folded flags, to commemorate the Australian soldiers who lost their lives during ‘Operation Slipper’ in Afghanistan.

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