Kobe Earthquake Memorial
THE AUSTRALIA-JAPAN SOCIETY OF WA EARTHQUAKE MEMORIAL
GIFT TO HYOGO.
As a mark of respect for the suffering of the people of Hyogo after the great HanshinAwaJi Earthquake, the Australia Japan Society of WA proposed that they should present a gift of a Memorial Sculpture, to be erected at the site of the Earthquake.
A new park has been constructed adjacent to the new bridge (now the longest suspension bridge in the World) replacing the one which collapsed, killing many people. This Memorial will be placed at the end of the bridge on the Island of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture, the sister State of Western Australia and unveiled there on April 5th 1998.
The Memorial takes the form of a Sculpture Fountain based upon a soaring flight of Black Swans. This theme was chosen as being a particularly appropriate and poignant image, for several interrelated reasons, but principally as a major symbol of Western Australia. The Sculptors, Joan and Charlie Smith were in fact approached by the Australia-Japan Society because of their experience in the creation of a major landmark icon for Perth based on the Black Swan symbol. This is the Citizen of The Year Commemorative Sculpture situated at Burswood Park, Perth.
Of extreme significance to this area from time immemorial, ( including the fact that Perth was named by the first European settlers: 'The Swan River Colony' ) the Black Swan became a perfect metaphor to express the spiritual empathy of the people of WA with the people of Hyogo. In this way, it is intended to reinforce the cultural and social links between these two Communities.
Almost uniquely, swans throughout the world are held in great esteem and particularly in Japan. Being associated with water and being migratory by nature, their mysterious and graceful appearances and silent disappearances, have made them central to creative myths. The Swan is the 'Bird of Life', therefore symbolic of 'New life', it represents the 'Dawn of a new day' and transcendence of the soul or spirit. The sculpture comprises of five swans, the number which symbolically represents the human microcosm itself. Individually, each bird has been given attributes which represent those characteristics that sustained the people of Kobe through the devastation of the Earthquake.
In the context of the rebuilding of Kobe after the Earthquake, it was felt that this proposal carried a unique and symbolic message appropriate to express the wishes of all those involved.