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Anzac Poppy Art Project 2015

Towards the end of 2014, Natasha Edwards (Director, Swell Sculpture Festival) sought an expression of interest for me to design a poppy and develop an art installation for the 100th year Anzac Day commemorations for the Currumbin RSL dawn service at Elephant Rock.

Following some experimentation with different styles and sizes of plastic bottles, I had created a Flanders poppy by utilising the tops of two 600ml plastic bottles. At this time I was also sampling various shades of red and a range of finishes of spray paints which would best suit this art piece. Natasha loved the design and took it to the RSL, who were also very impressed. With the huge amount and variety of work envisaged, Tony Butler (my partner) agreed to once again be part of this adventure. By early 2015, agreement had been reached with the various stakeholders that the Anzac Day Art Project would progress – so it was all systems go....

Natasha Edwards (Director, Swell Sculpture Festival) organised a donation of 10,000 bottles from Visy, AMEC Plastics donated 5,000 lids and the shark netting from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Natasha and Co. also organised for Tony and I to work at a couple of schools, Palm Beach Currumbin High School and Elanora State School. Tony and myself organised Currumbin Primary School contribution with bottles, teaching 6 classes a day of year 3-6's for 3 days creating poppies.

Tony helped with classes or continued the tedious task of cutting the tops off 5000 bottles with a bandsaw. We taught a couple of classes at each school and taught teachers who would pass it on to others. Paula Hall from PBCHS was a wonderful help organising a space to store some bottles and to operate the bandsaw, some of her classes even had a chance to paint the poppies. Karen Greenwood from Elanora S.S. got the whole school involved and after teaching a couple of classes she took it on board with great results. The RSL Seniors group: Fun & Ageless (previously known as Forever Young) gave much of their spare time with 3 Saturday workshops let alone the bags they took home to complete. What a great bunch! Always offered support and help and 3 came down to help with the final stage of completion. Thanks to them all!

Ray McGuire, Anzac Day Event Manager, explained for Council Approval, NO FLORA or FAUNA to be damaged. The design for the POPPIES at Elephant Rock was to create as little impact, leaving no footprint. So I decided the poppies should flow down the bare contours of the rock's face.

I am proud to have been chosen to create and workshop a poppy design utilising recycled plastic bottles as part of the Anzac centenary commemorations. My flower creations have often been described as whimsical. In remembering the casualties of war, this poppy displays a much more significant and sombre meaning. The school workshops assist in educating students of the importance of Anzac Day, whilst providing the means for their participation in this year's event.

The Anzac Poppy Art Project was installed on the 17th April by Chris Roberts - Abseilor (Rope Access and Rescue) and de-installed on the 27th April 2015.

Materials: Recycled PET bottles and Lids, and Shark Netting

Dimensions: Variable

Exhibited: Anzac Day 2015– Swell Festival and Currumbin RSL