Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hilltop Homage

In Silent Memory Of Those We Never Knew

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


One of the things that has always amazed me is how different and distinct each Australian state capital is from its counterparts. In the first week of this year, we were in Perth, Western Australia and despite a hectic three-day schedule that included a wedding, we still managed to savour some of the most famous sights.

I’d heard that the 400-hectare Kings Park is actually larger in area than New York’s Central Park and I enjoyed my first fleeting visit to the beautiful setting, situated high above the Swan River.

It was a scorching Sunday morning under a flawless blue sky and the symmetry of the State War Memorial was perfect against the tranquil backdrop.


Because it’s set on a hill, the design of the monument allows for a crypt, although this is not immediately apparent when looking downhill at the memorial.

The Cenotaph was unveiled in 1929 while the Queen inaugurated the pool of reflection and the flame of remembrance in 2000. In the crypt, along with a display of regimental colours, there are names of every serviceman and woman from Western Australia who were killed in the Boer War, the two World Wars, Malaya, Borneo, Korea and Vietnam.


When I first composed this shot of the eternal flame, I included the reflection in the water as well. Then I suddenly noticed that the intense heat of ignition was causing a mirage-like shimmer, just left of centre. In this shot above, you can actually glimpse the heat-induced distortion, even though this is a low-resolution copy.

Having seen several cenotaphs around the world, I didn’t realise the significance of this design until I flew back to Melbourne and began researching the background of the monument. The obelisk, I learned later, is based on the design of Australian Imperial Force memorials erected in France and Belgium.


This young visitor (see last photo, below) was walking across a narrow plinth in the shadow of the crypt, with the strap of his bicycle helmet in his mouth. He was in shadow and I was outside in the sunlight, about twenty metres away, when I realised what a great image it would make, because it is so different from a run-of-the-mill shot.

I only had time for one frame before he disappeared, but it's interesting to note that the position of his foot does not obliterate the word "name" in the engraved letters.

It’s fitting, I guess, that the names of those who lost their lives should be etched forever in an area of such beauty and silent contemplation.


Visit TNChick's
Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "In Memory''.


24 comments:

City Girl said...

Thank you for the lovely photos AND for the history/geography lesson.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

I love the heat shimmer, very cool. I also am glad that you explain the whys of your shots.

Cecily R said...

I am so glad that there are monuments like these...although I do wish the need wasn't there.

Reading your post I have a new photography goal...to get to a point where I actually "compose" a shot. I don't do that yet. Not often enough, anyway.

Jazz said...

Wonderful photos and a great look at another part of Oz.

Nessa said...

The memorials with the lists of names are always so moving. Such a concrtete way to show how many lives are lost.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

The mirage is beautiful as are all your photos! Thanks for memorializing this through your work!

Artist Unplugged said...

Amazing and touching photos, thanks for sharing them.

Thumbelina said...

Perfect homage.
That last shot is perfect and I do not use that word lightly.

Very well done my friend - the words so humbly packing a punch as well.

Maggie May said...

Brilliant that we do have monuments in honour of all the men who gave up their lives for us, where ever I have visited.
This one is superb and the visitor walking past the list of names just made that photograph!

Mikki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms. Neha Gandhi said...

i love ur thought about the "name" being etched forever and the way you depict it through the chance-frame that you captured.

nice blog... shall be following this one for sure :)

http://www.ms-nehagandhi.blogspot.com/

Eddie Bluelights said...

Wonderful memory of those brave men to whom we owe so much.
Beautiful photographs and commentary as usual.

~Just me again~ said...

Very nice shots! I like the one with the guy walking.

Rinkly Rimes said...

To think that I visited Perth and never even saw it!!! But I did see the blue sky! (And felt the heat!)

Hilary said...

That last shot in particular is a beauty, David.

katherine. said...

at first I thought you wrote "Star War Memorial"

rolling my eyes

the last shot was perfect timing...camera brain.

Angela said...

That is a beautiful and powerful memorial.

Kim said...

You have a very unique perspective of photography. I wouldn't have noticed the small details but feel better for having been guided through it!

Seamus said...

It is always awesome to spend time around such memorials as these.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

It was a great post, David, and an excellent set of photos. Thanks.

Have a great weekend!

Mar said...

Wonderfully written, great shots as always, I particularly like the last one.
Happy weekend!

Cindy OFarrell said...

Aloha David!

Lovely photos & great history lesson:) Thank you!

Got mines up!
http://upcountrysmiles.com

Cindy O

Mojo said...

Inspiring David. I had a similar, if smaller scale, idea with mine.

We must always be mindful of those who gave it all. Thanks for this.

Carver said...

This was a beautiful and informative post for the theme David. So well photographed and well written.