Chevrons have been used by the military for centuries, symbolising rank, length of service or good conduct. For Australians on the Western Front, they carried a particular significance.
Australia’s Official War Historian Charles Bean made mention of the chevron in his 1918 sketch of the Australian infantryman on the Western Front.
The Australian Imperial Force, he observed, was made up entirely from volunteers who remained ‘incorrigibly civilian’: “The young Australian recruits, drafted in like half-wild colts … were probably moulded powerfully by … senior comrades.”
“The older men had been broken in,” Bean continued. He referred to these ‘veterans’ who wore an ‘A’ for ‘Anzac’ and chevrons denoting years of service in the AIF – red for 1914 and blue for each year afterwards.
The chevron, a V-shaped line or stripe, is a powerful motif in the Sir John Monash Centre. It is featured in the timberwork panels through the foyer and surrounding the Immersive Gallery.
The timbers have been selected to represent each State and Territory of Australia:
- Queensland – Silky oak (Grevillea robusta)
- New South Wales – Brushbox (Lophostemon confertus)
- Australian Capital Territory – Casuarina (Casuarina cunninghamiana)
- Victoria – Victorian Ash (Eucalpytus regnans/Eucalyptus delegatensis)
- Tasmania – Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii)
- Northern Territory – Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
- South Australia – Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
- Western Australia – Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata)
All of the timberwork throughout the Sir John Monash Centre is by one of Australia’s finest craftsmen, Grant Rollinson, from Enigma Design near Canberra.
Grant is an acclaimed furniture designer whose work features in Parliament House (Canberra), St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta (Sydney), and the High Court of Australia (Canberra).
For the Sir John Monash Centre, he has produced 1032 chevrons, furniture, wall panels and doors.
Nearly 21 tonnes of his crafted timber has been shipped from Australia to the Sir John Monash Centre, providing a distinctly Australian atmosphere which, Grant hopes, will be warm and earthy, reassuring and familiar.