Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Concept drawing rationale

Reproduced courtesy SIEV X National Memorial Project

Concept design for the SIEV X National Memorial in Canberra, by Taryn De Villers

Date: 2004
Overall: 295 x 420 mm
Medium: Printed, pencil on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from SIEV X National Memorial Project
Object Copyright: © SIEV X National Memorial Project
Object Name: Drawing
Object No: 00046196

User Terms

    In 2004 the SIEV X National Memorial Project team coordinated a national schools art project in which thousands of high school students across Australia learned about the SIEV X maritime disaster and responded with designs for a national memorial. These concept drawings and paintings on paper and textile represent a selection of entries to the Young People's Art Collaboration, commemorating the 353 lives lost when the refugee boat sank in international waters on 19 October 2001.
    SignificanceThe concept drawings and paintings reflect the response of Australian high school students to the sinking of SIEV X with a loss of 353 lives in 2001. They capture many emotions - anger and bewilderment at the lack of media coverage this incident received, responses to the Government's treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, a need to inform the general public of what happened, and a desire to commemorate the victims of this tragedy and offer them both solace and empathy.

    HistoryOn 19 October 2001 a small fishing boat (19 metres long) embarked from Lampong, Indonesia with over 400 women and children fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq. Many were attempting to join fathers and husbands in Australia. After a night sailing in horrendous weather the boat foundered and sank in international waters with the deaths of 146 children, 142 women and 65 men. Over 100 people survived the initial sinking and floated for 20 hours in the water. During the night, two large vessels arrived and shone search lights on the water but failed to rescue the survivors. The following day, only 44 asylum seekers remained. They were eventually picked up by passing fishermen.

    The SIEV X National Memorial Project was established in 2004 by author and psychologist Steve Biddulph as a way of raising awareness about this event amongst young Australians. High schools throughout Australia were sent information on the SIEV X incident and asked to develop designs for a memorial to be erected on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Art teachers facilitated the project and students, generally working in groups, submitted drawings, paintings or models of their proposed memorial. Short rationales outlining its message and symbolism accompanied the concept drawings and the conveners also filmed students discussing their response to the event and the impetus behind their designs.

    Over 140 schools participated in the project and an exhibition of the designs was installed at the Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney and the Wesley Church in Londsdale Street, Melbourne. During the opening in Sydney on 26 October 2004, SIEV X survivor and spokesperson Amal Basry related her experiences on the boat and discussed the significance of the proposed memorial to the survivors. Currently there are seven survivors of the tragedy in Australia, and about 30 overseas. As a result of attending the launch in Sydney and Melbourne, family and survivors of the SIEV X disaster founded their own organisation, Family of SIEV X, to look after their welfare and establish a support network.

    A winning design was selected (by Mitchell Donaldson of Hillbrook Anglican School, Brisbane) and the idea modified. The proposed memorial consisted of a series of painted poles (one for each victim of the disaster) incorporating the shape of a boat and running down into the lake. The white poles are of different heights to represent adults and children. Community groups, churches and schools from throughout Australia were invited to submit a decorated wooden pole as part of the memorial.

    The sculpture was to have been assembled temporarily in Canberra for three weeks in October 2006; however mishandling of the planning application by the National Capital Authority led to permission not being granted in time. Nevertheless on 15 October, the day of the anniversary event, over 2,000 people showed up at the lakeside site, where a team of volunteers had organised a complete ceremony involving a procession, and 600 people raised their own and others' poles. In 2007, the sixth anniversary of the tragedy, the ACT Government gave permission for the memorial to be erected for six weeks in Weston Park, Yarralumla. Negotiations continue for permission to erect the memorial permanently on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin as an enduring feature of the national capital and the national conscience.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Concept design for the SIEV X National Memorial in Canberra, by Taryn De Villers

    Collection title: SIEV X design collection

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.