Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remembering pain and peace

Today Fiona and I attended the ANZAC dawn service in our town (Maleny) to remember the pain and suffering that is war; and join with others in striving for peace and peaceful ways to deal with disagreements and conflicts.

©2012 Barry Smith - Eternal flame of remembrance - Maleny RSL - (altered - white and green for hope and peace)
Yesterday I was thinking about the the dawn service - what it meant to me, the futility of war, those who don't return home, the fact that they don't enter home again etc. I was doing this as I sorted a few box loads of stuff a person up the road gave me on Sunday - they had come to our Open Studio last year and said they had stuff for me. Amongst the different bits were boards with blank keys hanging on nails.

© 2012 Barry Smith - Blank keys
A number of thought flashed through my mind as I looked at the blank keys. They reminded me of military identity dog tags. But they also said to me they are blank and have no serrations because those who died are not going to come home and are not going to open any doors and don't need keys to the family home. The nails reminded me of the painting of the souls walking to the Menin Gate - some upright some bent over. And the stacks of keys tended to look like coffins.
© 2012 - Barry Smith - Not returning home
©2012 Barry Smith - Heads bent, coffins - pain and sorrow 1
©2012 Barry Smith - Heads bent, coffins - pain and sorrow 2
©2012 Barry Smith - Souls marching 1
©2012 Barry Smith - Souls and coffins 1
©2012 Barry Smith - Souls and coffins 2
All a bit weird I know - but it is amazing what the eye and mind makes of ordinary things when subconsciously one is contemplating issues.

ANZAC day reminds me of a Martin Luther King quote: "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows." So ending on a positive note - today did provide another opportunity to vibe for peace in our world.


  1. I attended a service last night, and I always have mixed feelings about the whole thing. It saddens me to think that we have, in reality, failed those men miserably. They went to fight the 'war to end all wars', they thought they were fighting for freedom. And here we are, almost 100 years later, still sending our servicemen and women away to kill or be killed for less than the best of reasons. I visited the Menin Gate and the surrounding battlegrounds in 1999, trying to imagine what it might have been like for my grandfather, who was horribly wounded in the 3rd battle of Ypres, at Passchendaele, in 1917. One of the most sobering days of my life. It seems we've learnt nothing at all. As the Eric Bogle song says, "The killing and the dying were all done in vain, for young Willie McBride it all happened again, and again and again and again and again."

  2. this is a poignant and meaningful post - i realized i don't know much about australian history and would like to change that... i can see how you thought of coffins in rows with the keys - and i wonder if you will ever be able to see them as anything else... or if you even need to? your service sounds like it was quite beautiful -
    all of those keys, all of the lives, all without door locks to fill and turn, all without a home to return to...
    but we must never fail to be lights that shine in the darkness - and hope that someday, human nature (for some) will shift away from fear and violence...

  3. These images are staggering, Barry. I was about to say that you have an amazing imagination to see such things in simple objects (which you do), but perhaps the harsh realities of death and war are everywhere - all our lives have been touched by them, and the amazement is that so many people don't sense this truth around them, or don't acknowledge it. But you have made art from it, and art can deliver a message of peace better than any other medium. Bravo. And thanks.

  4. It is a reflective day for all Aussies. We've learnt nothing. Your images speak volumes Barry.

  5. Barry - loved the thought process. Sad that the process has to start from such a senseless act of war, pain, grieving - but sadly this will always be such a part of our lives - we will never get along as a whole. Beautiful piece and I love that they are facing the heavens... peace at last.

  6. This post was incredible, Barry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images - so thought provoking. Humankind has failed so miserably again and again. Yet - humankind is also capable of creating beauty - this is the only thing that keeps me from losing hope entirely.

  7. B - this is such a powerful post. and the images you took esp of the bent nails struck straight into my heart. i dunno how families of soldiers deal with it. that fear that their son or daughter may never come home. i would have crumpled to pieces. and i almost did when i saw the bent nails. it's like a funeral. right half are the living, heads bent in sadness facing the left half ... tombstones. upright, and from the way you took that photo, they are all lined in a straight line, just like military cemeteries are.

  8. Glad you've been vibing peace.... and remembering. The keys are fascinating - the coffin thing - interesting, and that shot "Heads bent, coffins - pain and sorrow 2" reminds me of the National Cemetery in Washington with row upon row of white crosses.

  9. MIA, MJ, TT, JM,SZQ, S/R, L & VA - as many have said it is good to be able to use the darkness to push off to look to the light and peace. And important to just take those baby peace steps. MIA - amazing about your visit to MG - Fiona and I also went there and to the surrounding area in 2008 as part of a peace an family journey - F's great-grandfather died there in 1917. MJ - may we always look to the light. TT - slightly spooky images but they do get the message across to me at least. JM - an important day for peace. SZQ - glad you thought they are thought provoking and may they be at peace. S/R - may we continue to be the bearers of hope. L - amazing how the apps can create images - but I agree I also immediately thought of military cemetaries. VA - still vibing for peace. Go well and vibe well. B

  10. oooh - came in to look at your clock and found these keys. Love the keys, love the images. x


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.