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