Koondoola peace park to get Vietnam War sculpture memorial

Sculptor Mehdi Rasulle: Challenging process. Picture: Martin Kennealey   d471266
Artist's impression of the memorial sculpture.
Sculptor Mehdi Rasulle: Challenging process. Picture: Martin Kennealey d471266 Artist's impression of the memorial sculpture.

A SYMBOLIC sculpture representing a Vietnam War battle is to be the focal point of the Koondoola peace park.

Quinns Rocks artist Mehdi Rasulle has been commissioned by the City of Wanneroo to create a public artwork at the proposed park referencing the Battle of Long Tan.

A report presented at the June 27 council meeting said the peace park, located northeast of Koondoola Community Centre, would provide a place for “quiet individual reflection” and be a formal gathering space for commemorative community events.

The artwork was requested to reflect the theme of a memorial to the Australian and Vietnamese servicemen and women who served during the Vietnam War.

Rasulle’s successful design comprises two nearly 4m high panels of different materials with cut-outs of soldiers, one Australian and the other Vietnamese, and above this a cross, representing the Long Tan Cross memorial in Vietnam, within a lotus flower.

“It was a very challenging process to come up with an idea because the subject itself is war,” he said.

“How can I come up with something that’s not sad and turn a negative into a positive.”

His inspiration came from the lotus flower, which is Vietnam’s national flower and known for growing in muddy water and swamp areas, and wanted to signify that something beautiful could grow from the dissolution of war.

“It’s a healing sort of flower, a symbol,” he said. “It’s a beautiful flower that comes out of basically a swamp.

“It presented quite a message.”

It is an evolving artwork as at certain points the panels appear to unite, symbolising the joining together of the two communities. It’s subtle in terms of the subject,” he said.

“Everyone can get something out of it.”

Rasulle said it was not a typical war memorial and he wanted to create a place that people could sit and enjoy,

Councillors unanimously endorsed the design and were full of praise for the artist, with Cr Brett Treby calling it an “absolute standout” and Cr Dianne Guise saying the submission had blown her away.

Mayor Tracey Roberts also gave positive feedback on the work.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful, symbolic piece of art,” she said.

Along with the sculpture, the park will feature a paved area, lighting, three flagpoles, garden and space for larger community gatherings.

The City had listed $100,000 in its 2016-17 budget after believing it would be eligible for a $50,000 Department of Veterans’ Affairs grant but since discovered this would be limited to $4000. It has limited the scope of the landscape works because of this and also listed $172,000 in the 2017-18 budget, with $26,931 carried forward from the previous year.

The sculpture is expected to be finished by February.

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