In July 2010 we spent our annual holiday in France, visiting the World War One memorials and battlefields. This war was originally called the Great War, and only by seeing the many visual records of this on the landscape, can you appreciate the magnitude of this conflict. On my original blog was a banner photo and this was taken by my son, George, at the Vimy Ridge Memorial. This memorial is a magnificent reminder of the soldiers who lost their lives and George captured this beautifully in his photo.
I spent yesterday in peace and solitude (the boys were out playing sport) and sketched part of this memorial. The figure of a cloaked young female stands on top of the front wall and overlooks the Douai Plains. The woman has her head bowed, her eyes cast down, and her chin resting in one hand. Below her at ground level of the former battlefield is a sarcophagus, bearing a Brodie helmet, a sword and draped in laurel branches. The saddened figure of Canada Bereft, also known as Mother Canada, is a national personification of the young nation of Canada, mourning her dead. The statue, a reference to traditional images of the Mater Dolorosa and presented in a similar style to that of Michelangelo's Pieta, faces eastward looking out to the dawn of the new day. Unlike the other statues on the monument, stonemasons carved Canada Bereft from a single 30 tonne block of stone. The statue is the largest single piece in the monument and serves as a focal point.