Jagger’s ‘Brutally Confronting’ sculpture

The controversy surrounding Charles Jagger’s ‘Brutally Confronting’ sculpture

Nestled in the Shrine of Remembrance’s pristine gardens in Melbourne is Charles Sargeant Jagger’s bronzed sculpture of a battled-hardened soldier.

The sculpture is simply known as ‘Wipers’ in reference to the front-line soldiers’ often-garbled enunciation of the wrecked Flemish town of Ypres.

The grim sculpture has been described as a ‘brutally confronting’ depiction of a ‘confident lout’. Admittedly the vast majority of statues dotting the landscape depict soldiers in passive rather than active war-like stances.

In understanding the work, it’s insightful to know that Jagger was thrice-wounded and served on Gallipoli, at Ypres and on the Somme.

Jagger was unapologetic in explaining his confronting approach: ‘experience in the trenches persuaded me of the necessity for frankness and truth.’

And the sculpture would claim its own victims long after the war had ended. A low fence had to be installed around it to prevent visitors from continually hitting their heads on the bayonet.

Photo credit: Alex Coupe

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