As timeless as railway tracks, as graceful as a new dawn, three sculptures will remember World War One veterans in Goulburn, Moss Vale and Picton. Acclaimed visual artist Tracy Luff has released sketch plans of the works. They will stand at three railway stations along what was known during the war years as the Great Southern Line. Creating the sculptures began in 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing, when Southern Tablelands Arts conceived the idea.
Collaborating with researcher Dr Mary Hutchison from the Australian National University, Ms Luff has drawn on stories of struggle in the aftermath of the Great War. “These are the stories of railway workers who worked on the Great Southern Line, enlisted and fought in World War One, and then returned to once again work on the railway,’’ Ms Luff says.
Khaki green and black stains on the works represent remnants of war service, nightmares, grief and night shifts on gloomy stations. The sculpture’s shapes represent nurturing and feelings of caring. Moss Vale and Picton’s works reflect the veterans’ musical and sport connections with their community. “The timber components of the sculpture are all recycled old railway sleepers,” Ms Luff says. “They could be linked to a time when a returning veteran laid them. They supported the trains carrying many of our brave young men to war and back.’’
Southern Tablelands Arts executive director Susan Conroy says the sculptures would not have been so informed had it not been for painstaking research into the soldiers and their families. “Five loco employees from Goulburn, who enlisted together, who would have all left and returned to their hometown with the sound of a train’s steam whistle in their ears, are commemorated,” Ms Conroy says. “These evocative sculptures will be secured in concrete foundations once we receive the final approvals. They will be a constant source of pride for the region’s railway workforce, past and present, and wider community.’’
“The project has well captured soldiers’ experiences and ongoing consequences for the men and their loved ones,” Ms Conroy says.