February 21, 2024

Beauty Arts

The Arts Authority

Australian War Memorial reveals new Iraq War gallery will showcase ‘NO WAR’ Sydney Opera House protest items alongside fighter jet

Australian War Memorial reveals new Iraq War gallery will showcase ‘NO WAR’ Sydney Opera House protest items alongside fighter jet

On the early morning of March 18, 2003, Australia was on the brink of heading to war in Iraq, and Dave Burgess was scaling the Sydney Opera Property in what would become a single of the nation’s most infamous protests.

“Just as I flatten myself out on the tiles and set the fingernails and toes into action, a voice from beneath stated, ‘Come down, now!'” Mr Burgess recalled.

“It was the stability guard, and it was the hairiest element of the climb, and I form of screamed as a result of gritted teeth: ‘I just may possibly mate!’ Then I continued on my merry way.

“I attained the backbone and then experienced a bigger climb, vertically at 1st, up the sail.

“I was padlock and chaining the entice doors on the way up so the law enforcement would not hassle us until we had been all set.”

Mr Burgess and his fellow protester, Will Saunders, set about painting “NO WAR” in large crimson cash letters on the aspect of the Sydney Opera House.

“We just had a five-metre roller pole and stood at the leading composing the words upside down,” he claimed.

“Ferries commenced honking, the climbers on the Harbour Bridge stopped, and you could see them staring across.

“I was just considering about the imminent conflict and the range of individuals who ended up heading to die and how global politics would be modified forever for the even worse as a outcome.”

Man with glasses holding a framed picture of the Sydney Opera House.
Mr Burgess says he has “no regrets” about the protest. (ABC News: Ross McLoughlin)

The tallest sail of the opera household is a rather higher-profile canvas, but by likelihood, the protesters also timed their run for most publicity.

“We in some way managed to rating the actual 25-minute, fifty percent-an-hour window that [then US president George W] Bush went on tv,” Mr Burgess said. 

When they ended up painting, Mr Bush was addressing the globe, offering Saddam Hussein 48 hrs to leave Iraq or encounter armed forces conflict.

“We ended up really in the cells at The Rocks when the detective came in and looked at us and mentioned, ‘You know he is declared war?’,” Mr Burgess recalled. 

“We all experienced a moment of, ‘Oh, bugger’, like the detective. It was a unfortunate second.”

‘Improved’ Opera Dwelling souvenirs and ‘no regrets’ 

Mr Burgess and Mr Saunders have been afterwards convicted of destructive damage, sentenced to 9 months’ periodic detention, and ordered to fork out the Opera House’s $151,000 cleansing invoice.

“We created it really clear that we had to spend the bill we’d finished the damage it was our obligation,” Mr Burgess said. 

“It didn’t consider far too significantly of a thought to seem at all the plastic kitsch in the souvenir stores about Sydney and go: if somebody donates, we can reward them an increased and improved graffiti Opera Household souvenir.

“We labored out that if you melted the glue, you could individual the glass from the base. You did it in a frying pan.

“If somebody donated us $20, we’d give them a snow world.

“A ton of other people today made substantial donations, there was a incredibly successful art display and a quantity of live shows to raise money for it as effectively, but the snow globes have been the people’s favourite.”

A Sydney Opera House snow globe with 'no war' written on the sails.
Just one of the Sydney Opera Residence snow globes that Mr Burgess and Mr Saunders marketed to increase revenue to pay for their cleaning monthly bill. (ABC News: James Vyver)

Inspite of the fallout from the protest, Mr Burgess reported he had “no regrets at all”. 

“My young children have been born just just after that, and they unquestionably bore the brunt of some of the situation a stint in prison does and the economic impacts,” he stated. 

“But I still fulfill people today who say to me, ‘You made us experience very good on what was a pretty terrible day’, and you can’t regret that.

“I basically truly feel incredibly relaxed with what we did. I just regret that we went to war, which led to such an perception on the world that Australia made.”

New Iraq War gallery to examine controversial subject areas

Two a long time later on, the Australian War Memorial’s (AWM) $500 million redevelopment will incorporate a new Iraq War gallery.

The centrepiece will be a F/A-18 Hornet, the to start with Australian aircraft to drop a bomb in conflict due to the fact Vietnam.

FA-18 Hornet fighter jet.
This F/A-18 Hornet will aspect in the Australian War Memorial’s new Iraq War gallery. (ABC Information: James Vyver)

Along with it will be the red paint, paint roller and paint-splashed Dunlop Volley sneakers used by Dave throughout his protest, as effectively as one of the snow globes. 

“At times the most impressive tales actually occur from pretty personal consequences,” AWM gallery growth director Bliss Jensen mentioned.

“We know that you can find a genuinely high hunger for material that is considered-provoking written content that definitely appears at the social impression of war.

“That protest story helps flesh out the tale of individuals occasions that ended up unfolding in 2003, and it is really continue to extremely considerably in the well-liked consciousness globally nowadays.”

Old tin of red paint.
Mr Burgess and Mr Saunders hauled two 4-litre tins of crimson paint to the top rated of the Sydney Opera House.(ABC Information: James Vyver)

Then-primary minister John Howard sent Australia to war to “deprive Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction”.

No weapons of mass destruction have been uncovered, nonetheless the conflict lasted a decade and cost 4 Australian life.

A controversial topic Ms Jenson claimed the AWM would not shy away from.

“We will contact on the story all around weapons of mass destruction, hunting at the Australian experience of war,” she explained.

“We will be hunting at those people threats and potential risks to our defence forces that ended up deployed.

“But also searching at for the Iraq War, our diaspora communities, those communities who have fled war and have settled in Australia — they have a perspective as perfectly to bring to the tale.”

A pair of white shoes splashed with red paint.
The Dunlop Volley sneakers that Mr Burgess wore throughout his anti-war protest.(ABC News: James Vyver)

Even though Mr Burgess approves of his protest products likely on display screen, he is continue to a protester at coronary heart.

“To be truthful, it sits extremely uncomfortably [beside the fighter jet], and I assume it is meant to be that way,” he reported.

“Obviously planes dropping bombs are the 1st image that was coming into our heads and our anger when we carried out the act.

“But at the exact same time, in some kind of poetic way, it also displays the smallness of protest steps and community opposition as opposed to the power of one of individuals terrible equipment.

“I believe everything that tends to make a federal government or a politician reflect on what they can do with the stroke of a pen or a relaxed remark or a lie always needs to be mirrored and improved on.”