Remembrance of things past: Historical commemoration in an educational setting

Year: 2015

Author: Kerby, Martin, Baguley, Margaret

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The involvement of the community in the Centenary Commemoration of World War 1 has been a particular focus of the Australian Government’s approach to this momentous event. This has resulted in numerous rounds of state and federal government funding for community groups to honour the service and sacrifice of the service men and women who served during this time.

This paper describes two arts-based projects in Australia secured under the Queensland ANZAC Centenary Grant and the Australian Government’s Arts and Culture Fund – Public Program grant. Important relationships were established between various groups in order to produce the outputs designated in both projects.

The common site for both grants was St Joseph’s Nudgee College, a boys’ boarding college in Brisbane, which also partnered with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) for the federal grant. The existing partnership between Nudgee College and USQ played a critical role in the successful completion of these grants. The grants were able to utilise the expertise and experience from members of the school, university and wider community.

The vision for the project was to create greater awareness of the Anzac legacy and understanding of the sacrifices made by past students of Nudgee College through artistic and academically rigorous quality projects which utilise the arts to tell these stories in powerful and thought-provoking ways. All of the events were publicly accessible to the community and included: an evening sound and light show utilising the heritage listed buildings of the college, four large scale dioramas (Gallipoli, 1915; Amiens, 1918; North Africa, 1942; New Guinea, 1942), a school museum display, a commemorative textile/embroidery, and a children’s picture book.

A three phase evaluation was undertaken of both projects and the data compiled using a qualitative case study approach. Data included pre- and post- surveys, focus group interviews, student reflections and visual documentation. This ensured a range of perspectives and evidence was obtained which provided rich data for analysis.

The outcomes of the project will be exhibited in October, 2015 and the findings will explore how the projects have met the criteria for each grant. We will examine how the arts and cultural activities outlined in the projects have provided a multi-modal and sensory experience for the students through their involvement in the projects. Additionally how the projects have catered for the diverse student population of the College and their impact on the local and wider community will be considered.