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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Community through Creativity: Empowering Veteran Artists (Mark Johnston with Alex Donnelly)

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mark johnston with alex donnelly

In this discussion, Mark Johnston, Chairman and Director of the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM) talks to academic researcher and veteran Alex Donnelly about art therapy that is not just for veterans but for their families, the challenges of dealing with traumatic incidents resulting from military experience, and the value of art and community.

alex donnelly: I’m interested in the approach that your Australian National Veterans Arts Museum has taken in terms of running collaborative projects which enable participating veterans to explore their experiences through art and through poetry. It seems to me that these commemorative acts seem very different to what we might think of as more traditional commemorative projects or sites such as war memorials or our own Cenotaph in London. Do you think that the commemorative approach that you and your museum are adopting serves different groups to those more traditional sites and constitutes a different function? Are these two different approaches alternatives or are they symbiotic in some kind of way?

mark johnston: That’s a fantastic question. In terms of how we go about it, at the end of the day it’s all about the well-being of veterans and families and so the approach that we’ve developed is effectively a tool, a means to an end, and the end is that the veterans and their families have a better quality of life today than they did yesterday. When you take it in that context,...

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