Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Visit to Te Papa and the Gallipoli; The Scale Of War

A couple of weeks ago a group of us ventured down to Wellington for a tournament, taking an extra day off work we headed to the Great War Exhibition (created by Sir Peter Jackson) and the National Museum (Te Papa) and their exhibition Gallipoli; The Scale Of War.

I had seen and heard a lot more about the Great War Exhibition as it features hundreds (thousands?) of figures sculpted by the Perry Twins and painted by gamers all across New Zealand. The Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa was something I knew very little about… Let me tell you, I was about to blown away!
Cool logo! I'd play a game that had a logo like that...
Walking through the doors and rounding the first corner you are confronted by Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott in 2.4-up scale! Yes, 2.4x their actual size. He (and his companions in the exhibit) dwarf those of us that walk around in awe. The detail is truly unbelievable and the work done by the team at Weta Workshop has to be seen to be believed.
The Lieutenant was one of the first Kiwis to land on Gallipoli and was shot in the arm whilst leading his men up a ridge. He was stretchered out that night. 'So ended the most glorious day of my life'.
Round the next corner we see Lieutenant Colonel Percival Fenwick.
He arrived in the first hours of the attack and found himself treating casualties on the beach.
'Total to date: 5,000 casualties, about three men per yard of ground gained' - Lieutenant Colonel Fenwick.
Taking a break from the giant figures the next room is a lot more interactive with things to touch, watch and feel. A welcome break after the first two rooms. I didn't take many photos in here but I can never pass an opportunity to take a snap of a good diorama.
Both of these images are of Quinn's Post, literally a grenades throw away from the Turks. Chicken wire and an improvised roof covered the trench lines to stop unwanted visitors dropping in. The exhibit also had their first of two awesome 3-D maps with projectors underneath here showing the time lines for the invasion and subsequent attacks. Think about the old museum dioramas with lights that you could turn on and read about what happened, and then update that with 21st century technology.
Next up we are confronted by Private Jack (John) Dunn.
His face tells a story of a man that is broken, having been sick with pneumonia and returning to the front line still ill he would fall asleep at his post and be sentenced to death. Taking his illness and previous conduct into account he was sent back to the front line to fight.
I hear that todays MRE's are a bit of a mixed bag, but they sound like a picnic compared to this image. Leaving Jack there was a second interactive room where you could learn more about life in the trenches. From there you then proceed up a trench where you are bombarded with noise, the floor shaking under your feet and displayed on the wall are two more trench lines where Turkish and ANZAC troops carry on day to day activities, or fight to the death.
Leaving the trenches we find the Maori Machine-gun team of Private Colin Warden, Corporal Friday Hawkins and Private Rikihana Carkeek.
I feel very un-Kiwi saying this but I've never had an urge to travel to Gallipoli and much of it's history has been a mystery to me. Walking around this particular piece, reading about the events, the people and their actions I was surprising emotional. Perhaps it was the actions of these men (and so many more) putting all thoughts of their survival aside to help the man next to them, or maybe it was the culmination of everything I'd seen up to this point. Maybe it was just the scale of what stood in front of me!
On the final stretch we come across Staff Nurse Lottie (Charlotte) Le Gallais. She was a military nurse stationed on the hospital ship Maheno. Here she finds out that her brother Leddie had been killed at Gallipoli, her letters returned with a black stamp that read: 'Killed, return to sender'.
The next room contained a model of the hospital ship and then prepared the way for the final figure...
Sergeant Cecil Malthus on the Western Front.
The exhibit was really focused on the events of Gallipoli. It was appropriate given its place in our history but it was a little disappointing that the Sergeant Malthus was the only real nod to the contribution of New Zealand Service men and women outside of this campaign.
It was a pretty powerful 'nod' though, standing tall with his feet surrounded by red poppies.

For a whole lot more images and information check out the official Te Papa website...

Next week I'll have some images from the Great War Exhibition.


Admiral Drax said...


Thank you so much for sharing this: strong stuff!

Admiral Drax said...


Rodger said...

I must get up to Wellington sometime soon for a look myself!

Dai said...

Fantastic stuff. Thanks so much for the very well taken pics and descriptions.