Farewell to Field of Light

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Tuaari Kuiti and Graeme Simpson at the closing of Field of Light:Avenue of Honour.
Camera IconTuaari Kuiti and Graeme Simpson at the closing of Field of Light:Avenue of Honour. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The 16,000 shining spheres at the Field of Light: Avenue of Honour fell dark on Sunday night.

Maori elder Tuaari Kuiti gave a final address in his native tongue to farewell a public art installation designed to honour men like his grandfather, who left for World War I from Albany.

“I think it’s a fantastic representation of that sacrifice that was made all that time ago,” Mr Kuiti said.

Menang man Graeme Simpson created a spiritual atmosphere with his didgeridoo before Justin Laing played The Last Post and Reveille.

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The lights then went dark in segments, prompting a round of applause from those gathered at the closing ceremony.

Set in a place of significance to Australia’s Anzac history, the installation was commissioned by the City of Albany and FORM.

From October until Sunday night, almost 187,000 people attended artist Bruce Munro’s installation. April was the busiest month of operation, with 45,242 attendees during the 28 days.

There were 4900 visitors on Easter Sunday alone.

FORM executive director Lynda Dorrington said with figures like that, the project had been extremely successful.

“We were genuinely overwhelmed with the amount of people who came from all parts of the globe — places like New Zealand, the UK, USA, Canada, Indonesia, China and Europe — as well as attracting travellers from all around Australia,” she said.

“I believe it put Albany back on the map as one of Australia’s most important places for many reasons. Many people came to Albany to see Field of Light: Avenue of Honour and learnt that Albany was a remarkable place due to its culture, history and natural beauty.”

Munro said it had been a privilege to commemorate the Anzacs.

“The Avenue of Honour is just such a moving space and it felt extremely relevant to place Field of Light under the trees to coincide with the 2014-18 centenary of the Anzacs,” he said.

“To honour their sacrifices, we must endeavour to seek peaceful resolutions to ensure this never happens again.”

During its seven months, the installation hosted many special moments. The By Other Eyes choral work commemorating Armistice Day was one — and a marriage proposal was another.

Ms Dorrington said Albany had a major chance to secure projects ahead of the 2026 bicentenary of the founding of Albany, but she warned work needed to start now.

“These projects require a lot of human and financial resourcing, but we love driving them — so yes, definitely we will do more projects of this nature, funding permitting,” she said. “I have quite an important plea for the businesses of Albany.

“In partnership with the City of Albany, FORM has put out a survey especially for local businesses to complete. It’s really important we can understand the impact that Field of Light: Avenue of Honour has had.”

The survey can be filled out at formwa.survey.fm/fol-1.

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