Guerrilla sculpture

WWI conscientious objectors remembered

    • Guerrilla sculpture in Wellington commemorating NZ WWI conscientious objectors (anonymous); photo courtesy of Peace Action Wellington

Guerrilla sculptors took to Wellington's waterfront area in April 2016 at the time of the annual ANZAC Day commemorations with an action aimed at commemorating New Zealand's World War I conscientious objectors, including Archie Baxter, who were vilified and brutalised by the New Zealand military. Peace Action Wellington wrote about the annonymous sculpture project on their blog, calling for an end to "the romanticisation of war and the militarisation of Anzac Day". Read more here.... and here...

The sculpture shows an objector in military uniform bound to a post in "Field Punishment No. 1" which was the name of the penalty reserved for the worst soldiers in the New Zealand Defence Force during World War I - including those who would not fight. Baxter, in his book, We Shall Not Cease, described the ordeal: "My hands were taken from round the pole, tied together and pulled well up it, straining and cramping the muscles and forcing them into an unnatural position ... I was strained so tightly against the post that I was unable to move body or limbs a fraction of an inch".

NZ peace activist John Minto's blog entitled "19 things you need to know about ANZAC Day" also makes informative reading.

Here's an extended opinion piece I wrote for Public Art Review (Issue 55, 5 December 2016; published by Forecast Public Art, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA):

“Temporary Inspires Permanent: Activists’ sculptures evoke the fate of conscientious objectors—and the public now wants a permanent memorial”

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