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Gallipoli: The scale of our war

By Jarrod 21 Apr 2015

Weta Workps Richard Taylor with larger than life figure of Jack Dunn. Photograph by Norm Heke. Te Papa 3 Photo credit: Norm Heke, Te Papa

The Gallipoli campaign is considered a defining event in the history of New Zealand and Australia; it’s the date of the Gallipoli landings, 25 April, that we commemorate each year on ANZAC Day.

This year is the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, which was an eight-month long incursion by Allied forces into the Gallipoli peninsula, in what is now Turkey. At least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives, including more than 8,700 Australians and 2,779 New Zealanders.

To recognise this centenary, and the important place of Gallipoli in our history, Te Papa and Weta Workshop have teamed up to create a new exhibition - Gallipoli: The scale of our war. The exhibition tells the story of Gallipoli through the eyes of those who were there, through the experiences of 8 real people, and working with their diaries, letters, and photographs.

The exhibition includes large-scale illustrations, dioramas and models, and numerous wartime artifacts, as well as interactive exhibits and immersive sound design - but the real stars of the show are the giant figures sculpted by Weta Workshop’s team.

Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop with Lottie Le Gallais photograph by Michael Hall Te Papa Photo credit: Michael Hall, Te Papa.
Weta Workshops Jaqueline Makkee applies the finishing touches to the larger than life figure of Spencer Westmacott. Photograph by Norm Heke Te Papa. Photo credit: Norm Heke, Te Papa.

Much larger than life - but nevertheless eerily realistic - these figures are an immense and impressive technical and artistic achievement, particularly when you appreciate the obsessive attention to detail which has gone into their creation. If it weren't for the fact they are two-and-a-half times the size of the average person, you might consider they're real humans, frozen in time.

The rooms in between each giant hold items from the war, illustrations, dioramas, photos taken by soldiers on the front line, weapons used in combat and more. You'll discover the cramped, filthy conditions the soldiers faced and be able to crawl into a dugout to hear the letters an officer wrote to his wife, just days before he was killed. It's incredibly informative, and seriously moving.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war is a free exhibition, and will run for four years. If you’re keen to go early in its run, bear in mind that at peak times you might have to wait a while to get in, as there’s a great deal of interest.

Joel Ahie from Weta Workshop with Colin Warden Photograph Michael Hall Te Papa Photo credit: Michael Hall, Te Papa.
Exhibition creative director Sir Richard Taylor looks at the large scale model of Jack Dunn. Photo credit Norm Heke Photo credit: Norm Heke, Te Papa.
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Gallipoli: The scale of our war

Discover the tragedies and triumphs of the Gallipoli campaign, as told through the eyes and words of the ordinary New Zealanders who were there.

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