Public Spirituality

2 10 2009

 

I went to the New Zealand Memorial in Hyde Park this week.  The official blurb describes it like this:

The New Zealand Memorial in London’s Hyde Park Corner commemorates the enduring bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and our shared sacrifice during times of war. It is a symbol both of our common heritage and of New Zealand’s distinct identity.

Designed by architect John Hardwick-Smith and sculptor Paul Dibble the memorial consists of 16 cross-shaped vertical bronze ‘standards’ set out in formation on a grassy slope. Each standard is adorned with text, patterns and small sculptures. “Through the words and images, any New Zealander visiting the memorial will recognise home, and British people may learn something of the relationship between our two countries,” explains Paul Dibble.

I’m interested in the way it functions as a site of public spirituality.  People go quiet.  Cry.  Feel homesick even though they wouldn’t say they were homesick any other time.  I’ve left this post as a draft for over a week because I don’t really know what to say about it exactly but it seems like national identity can be a place to express the more, connect to big values…  There is something transcendent about this place, despite its paticularity maybe.  Thinking some more about this…

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