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The First Figure Emerges

The figures are starting to come to life, from rough blocked-out shapes to highly detailed forms. Hikaru is a master of the human figure and is known for his remarkable detail and expression. The male figure is based on local Afghanistan veteran Joel Sardi who kindly lent us reference images of him in uniform and modelled for the facial features.

The female figure is also starting to emerge, wearing the uniform worn in East Timor.

A new gallery has been uploaded to this site showing all the designs for the sculptures, drawing up the figures on the block of wood and the carving. See our Gallery page to follow the progress of the work.

Carving Begins

Master chainsaw carver Hikaru Kodama has begun work on the first sculpture for Greensborough War Memorial Park. This first piece is of two contemporary soldiers; one dressed in the Australian army uniform worn in Afghanistan, one in the uniform worn in East Timor.

The carver of the original sculptures, Leigh Conkie, has been busy organising wood, scaffolding, chainsaws and providing art direction for Hikaru. Leigh will begin work on the dog sculpture in the coming weeks.

Hikaru Kodama is a leading chainsaw artist in Japan. When not travelling the world carving his stunning figures, Hikaru works for the Shimokawa Forestry Union. He has worked in partnership with Leigh Conkie for some years and will be working on this project for the two weeks he is in Australia.

As part of the research behind the new sculptures for Greensborough War Memorial Park, the artists visited the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne this week to have a look at an Australian Army uniform worn in Afghanistan. Special thanks to Assistant Curator Dr. Ian Jackson who made arrangements for us to visit after hours and photograph details of the uniform.

We were also allowed to view the collection at Diggerworks at the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, thanks to Major Cameron Lane. The Barracks has examples of the uniform worn in East Timor, which the female figure will be wearing.

The New Designs Unveiled

Designs for the new sculptures have been completed and were on display for public comment during the Fire Ceremony last night. The sculptures cover theatres of war from the Boer War to present day conflict in Afghanistan.

The ever-popular dog sculpture will be replaced with another war dog, this time a tracker dog, based on the experience of a local veteran who served as a dog handler in the Vietnam War. The other very popular sculpture, of the nurse, will also be replaced with a WWI nurse.

It is planned that the sculptures will be completed in two stages; Stage One includes four sculptures of six figures in total, due for completion by 25 April 2018. These sculptures include the tracker dog, an injured soldier, two modern soldiers; a male soldier in the uniform worn in Afghanistan and a female soldier in the uniform worn in East Timor, and a figure of a young boy running towards his father coming home from deployment.

Stage Two, subject to approval, will include a Lighthorseman, a WWI nurse, a woman receiving a letter from a soldier, a WWII pilot and a WWII sailor. These sculptures are currently planned for completion in November 2018.

Ceremonial Fire

The sculptures in Greensborough War Memorial Park made by Leigh Conkie fourteen years ago were burnt in a ceremonial fire in the Park on Saturday evening. The sculptures were a much loved-part of Greensborough, but had been ravaged by moisture over the years and were starting to fall apart. Work on designs for new sculptures to replace them has recently been completed. The new sculptures will be mounted in a way to prevent similar issues with moisture and will last significantly longer than the original pieces.

The magnificent fire sculpture built from the original figures was created by Macgregor Knox and his team; well known for their spectacular fire sculptures which are a feature of Montsalvat’s annual winter solstice celebration. The ceremonial fire was lit in each of the four corners by World War II Veteran; Ron Cornelius, Vietnam Veteran; Denis Rowlands, Afghanistan Veteran; Simon Thorn, and Berdene Oxley-Boyd currently serving at the Watsonia Barracks.

While it was very sad to see the Greensborough War Memorial Park sculptures go, the fire was a beautiful event that bought local people together with war veterans; remembering those past and present who dedicated themselves to serving our country.

Work on the new sculptures will continue throughout this year, they will be installed in the park in April 2018.

Thankyou to everyone who came to see the fire, met some of our local war veterans and shared their comments on the designs for the new sculptures.

Farewell fire celebration!

In the past week, Chainsaw artist Leigh Conkie removed the original sculptures he carved 14 years ago in Greensborough War Memorial Park. We’ve had some lovely messages from people on social media who have expressed their fondness for them and have said how much they will be missed. (We’re happy to say that the very popular dog will find a new home at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.)

It’s a bit sad to see all the bare tree stumps in the park, and it will be bare for a while; the new sculptures are due to arrive in April 2018.

In the meantime, we’re saying farewell to the sculptures in a ceremonial fire at Greensborough War Memorial Park this Saturday 9 September from 6pm. Local artist (and fire expert,) Macgregor Knox will be building the fire. Macgregor is known for his spectacular solstice fires at Montsalvat. Please join us by the fire, say farewell and see the sketches for the new sculptures planned for the park.