The Waiting Woman Symbolism
The waiting Woman
As one moves through the spaces of the Memorial, absorbing the feeling of quietude and contemplation induced by the serenity of the surroundings, one’s eye is drawn towards the horizon, along the pathway towards the sea.
At the edge of the cliff stands a figure of a woman. At first glance, this will appear almost real: just another visitor, holding her hat against the sea breeze, her skirt blown back by the prevailing wind. She is anxious, tense; her gaze forever fixed patiently on the horizon. It only becomes apparent as one waits for her to move away, that her stillness is otherworldly, like the young man she is seeking, already in another realm. She is in fact, frozen in time and bronze. She is eternal, all-encompassing; the figure of the waiting woman, grieving for her lost father, husband, brother, son. Through her, we can feel the pain of that loss, the everlasting waiting of those who did and of those who still do. She stands here, for those who will come to this place, still hoping that the ship will be found, to close this tragic chapter in Australian history. She is also here for those who will at least find comfort in the existence of this sacred site; this place of contemplation which honours and remembers the great sacrifice of those who gave their lives, to make Australia safe and free for the people who live in this Country today.
This concept was evolved as a fitting expression of all the people involved directly in this terrible tragedy. To portray the men from the ship herself, would be very difficult as any particular scene would personalise a single group too much, at the expense of others. All were equally involved and all suffered a similar fate. However, no matter what role these men played, they all had loved ones: wives or mothers, girlfriends, sisters, daughters; someone to mourn them; a woman somewhere who didn’t experience this terrible drama directly, but felt the connection through the eternal pain of loss and emptiness for the long years that have passed. The men of HMAS Sydney II will always be remembered by these women, and the surviving families.
It is to them this Memorial is also dedicated.