STATUE DEVELOPMENT

‘Sister Greta Towner – She too Served’

In the Sculptor’s Words

By Cam Crossley Sculptor 2023

Sister Greta Towner enlisted in the AANS (Australian Army Nursing Service) in July 1915, and arrived on Lemnos Island off the coast of Gallipoli in September the same year, aged just 24. It was evident from the project outset that photographic references of Greta from this time would be limited. Ultimately only 2 photographs were located that could provide suitable reference for the development of her sculpture of her at the time of her service. These are included below.

The first is her nursing graduation photograph from 1914, the second in post war in 1925. Both reveal her as tall, elegant even beautiful. From her uniform we were able to determine her waist at 27 inches and with her rumoured height of over 6 feet she was certainly a tall and slender young woman with a natural strength and style.

After visiting the site and determining the best location for the sculpture, the first step was to produce a quarter scale maquette of the finished work. With her brother Edgar’s sculpture already in Memorial Park larger than life and standing proud but perhaps with reservation on a sandstone plinth, my response to the site was to have Greta more ‘of the people’ standing on the ground, life size and accessible. My strong feeling was to have Greta in a subtle but purposeful pose that embodied not just her youth and grace, but her sense of purpose and strength that she must have had to face and endure the experiences and hardships of her service. In my view it was important for the sculpture to have a voice, to speak to people and not be just another mute bronze memorial in a park.

I was inspired to write the following lines:

‘Walking with Greta’

Come walk with me
Back to a time
Over a century ago.
And to a country
Far from here.
Back to a time
That may be painful
To remember,
But a time
We must never forget!

Cam Crossley Sculptor 2022

It is hoped that visitors to the park will do just that. The left hand is behind her in the manner of a mother or older sister asking the child to come walk with her. Her head turns towards her right in the direction of her brother Edgar, but not quite catching his gaze. They did not encounter each other during their service even though records indicate they could have been very near each other.

By adding a QR code to the base disk of the sculpture, we link the finished work to a designated page on the Blackall Tambo Regional Council website which can expand on her extraordinary life in text and further images. It will also tell the story of the making of this work.

It has been an honour to produce this work and I thank the Blackall RSL Sub Branch for the commission and their faith. I hope that the work ‘Walking with Greta’ is accepted and admired by the Blackall community and that she stands with dignity and purposeful grace in Memorial Park with her brother Edgar.

It is my hope also that Greta’s extraordinary life and service serve as inspiration for future generations. Lest We Forget

My strong feeling was to have Greta in a subtle but purposeful pose that embodied not just her youth and grace, but her sense of purpose and strength that she must have had to face and endure the experiences and hardships of her service. In my view it was important for the sculpture to have a voice, to speak to people and not be just another mute bronze memorial in a park.

The left hand is behind her in the manner of a mother or older sister asking the child to come walk with her. Her head turns towards her right in the direction of her brother Edgar, but not quite catching his gaze.

‘Sister Greta Towner – She too Served’