I went to the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa over the weekend and took my daughter (who is 3) and my husband. It was such a great exhibition and I wish I could have spent more time learning about this tragic event.
Unfortunately when I got there we got past 2 of the giants before my daughter just started screaming at the top of her lungs and would not go any further. She had already started trembling at the first giant, but seemed to be ok enough to keep moving forward. The issue with getting past 2 giants was that she wouldn’t go any further through the exhibition, but she flat out refused to go back passed the 2 we had just seen. So we were stuck in the middle of this exhibition with a screaming child who was just beside herself with fear. In the end Andrew took her out and I managed to continue through the exhibition to the end without them – albeit quicker than I would have hoped.
The giants were so realistic and definitely the stars of the show. They scared even me a little bit in that they looked so real you almost though they would move or turn their attention at you. You could really get a strong sense of their feelings and emotions. The details being things such as tears, sweat, flies, dirt, fabric stretching across limbs that you could see ached in the positions they held, veins popping with exertion, there was a sense of stress on the body with different areas of the body showing the delicacy of what they were doing.
For example in the below images while you can see the tension and strain in the elbow and upper arm of the man holding the ammo at his lower arm and hand where he holds the ammo you can see the delicacy with which he feeds the ammo through, knowing, of course, the this ammo is what stands between himself and his enemies.
Even the models that were on display were so detailed and held a great deal of emotion. The reality of war and the aftermath of it never more real for me than during this exhibition.
There was even a tunnel (dug out) that you had to walk through that to the right of you had other corridors (screens) that played images of people in the tunnels with you, and in some cases shooting at you, and the tunnels collapsing around you. And While you walked through the tunnel it shook with the noises all around you. I was actually really scared through here, and was tempted to turn back and not continue (Thank god Grace had left by then). The whole exhibition was well thought through and a complete experience rather than just showing a few things.
There were screens which showed the affect various weaponry had on the human body. It was really sick, and really put into perspective the real sacrifice that our veterans made, and the complete waste that war is. But then, as one fellow exhibition viewer said to me, although it was terrible and a waste, the sacrifice was so worth it. Bless our veterans!
The crying nurse, with her voice over, and quiet pose away from everything else just really made me want to sit and weep with her. Look at how tidy she has tried to keep herself, and yet through this strands of her hair, dead from stress, have worked their way from her cap and fall over her face.
Everything about the poses, the way she wipes with the back of her hand, and appears to try to stop herself from crying, to try hold it in lots like she is about to do the little snuffle, even her hand is showing as damp from the tears. I don’t think there has been any other exhibition that has ever moved me so much, and that has taken as much care with details. It is clear that every person working on this exhibition has put all of their care, love, and attention into these works.
The man walking through the poppies was the final giant and he was so moving.
I couldn’t help but get a sense of going home – finally – but of remembrance for his friends and family that had been slaughtered and remembering of what he had gone through, and those lives he had destroyed, both on the battlefield, and back home. And he just looked so young and weighed down, not necessarily by the heavy bags that he carried (although granted those would be heavy enough) but with the weight of what he had been through, and what he had done, and the fact he would never be able to forget.
The poppies were folding poppies that exhibition viewers were invited to write and fold and throw at the veteran’s feet in remembrance and honour. So moving that so many people felt inclined to take up the offer.
As you left the exhibition there was a small bowl of water that you were invited to sprinkle on yourself. The sign reading that as per Maori custom you sprinkle water over yourself after being in the presence of the dead to leave the spirit where you are leaving. I really got the sense that I needed to sprinkle water on myself upon leaving the exhibition. I was just so moved by what I had seen and actually experienced.
If you can get along to see the exhibition before it closes do. It is so worthwhile.