It is probably the first place people gravitate too, and it is also the place that “….honours those members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) who were killed on duty while performing functions attributable to the special circumstances and requirements of the Armed Forces, or as a result of terrorist action, and those who died while deployed on designated operations“.
It is a large open space, with a circular wall full of the names.
It is also a stark and powerful place, and tragically there is space for even more names.
Two statue groupings are found on either side of the central laurel wreath. These were created by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The grouping on the left features four men holding a stretcher aloft with a figure on it while on either side others seem to question and mourn the tableau.
The other sculpture has 5 figures in it, a male and female seemingly moving a nude male figure, with a male figure chiseling words on the wall in front of him. Another figure indicates an opening in the wall, which is inscribed “Through this space a shaft of sunlight falls at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of eleventh month”.
The sculptures represent Loss and Sacrifice, but each figure on its own could be interpreted differently depending on how they are viewed, I found them very powerful, and the one image that really struck me was the woman with the child. The images are graphic and strong, and somebody had left a red flower in the hand of the nude figure. The redness of the flower contrasting sharply with the stark bronze that held it, and the grey clouds overhead.
And with the Falklands Conflict anniversary at the moment, it is fitting to remember the many casualties that are inscribed on this wall. I wonder if there is something similar in Argentina?
Admittedly I was sceptical about the Arboretum, but having seen just this single memorial I now understand it better, but I am afraid that by its nature it is a solemn and sad place.
There are over 50000 trees here, on a 150 acre sight, with over 300 memorials, there is probably something for everybody here, and for families of servicemen and women, it is a place of remembrance and healing.
My session only explored a small part of the whole, I am hoping to go back one day, although hopefully in better weather and armed with a full compliment of battery power.
That brought my visit to an end, but I did not come away empty handed, these images are something to work at, to try to understand the emotions involved in those bronzes, and to ponder the names on the walls.