Digger statues: the Italian connection

image004Digger statues: the Italian connection‘ is the title of a talk to be given by Donald Richardson at the Museo Italiano (Carlton) on Wednesday, 16 September, 6.30pm (free: book here).  There are sculptures of ‘diggers’ on the war memorials in many Australian towns and suburbs. Although they are hardly ever noticed, they have been icons of Australian culture since the Boer War. But few know that many of them were actually designed and carved in Italy – in the marble workshops of Carrara – and bought by Australian monumental masons who simply erected them on their pedestals. They are part of a long Italian tradition that goes back to Ancient Rome (and includes Michelangelo) onto which Australian iconography has been grafted. Because the tradition was that only the names of those who served and/or died should appear on our war memorials, few artists signed their works, so their valuable contribution to our culture was in danger of being lost forever.  Donald Richardson OAM, BA, Dip.Art, T.Dip.Art, RSASA, is an art and design historian who has published a book on the art and design of Australian war memorials: Creating Remembrance (Common Ground Publishing, 2015). Now retired, he has taught and worked in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia and published several books on Australian art and design, art education and art theory.

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