Gilbert Doble's 'Winged Victory' is an elegant sculpture of Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory. With a laurel leaf in one hand, a sword raised in triumph in the other, it was created for the top of the Marrickville Soldiers' Memorial, which was unveiled in 1919 in honour of 458 local soldiers who had died during World War I.
The hollow sculpture was formed from thin copper alloy sheeting, and as a result, soon became quite unstable. By 1962 its condition had deteriorated so badly that it had to be taken down. Although it was restored and returned to the Memorial in 1988, continued instability saw it removed a second time in 2008. Eventually, in 2013 Marrickville Council commissioned a new sculpture for the Memorial and endorsed the transfer of Doble's original to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra.
ICS have been involved with assessing the condition of the sculpture for the last 8 years. When it became clear that it could no longer withstand the rigours of outdoor exhibition, ICS worked with Marrickville Council to develop a brief for its replacement. We then conserved the original components of the sculpture on behalf of the AWM after it passed into their ownership. This involved very carefully separating the original upper half from later restorations, painstaking repairs to make it stable, and time-consuming removal of overpaint to reveal its original patina. We then oversaw its transfer to Canberra, where it has now become the focal point of the AWM's new first World War Galleries.
The new sculpture, created by artists Peter Corlett and Darien Pullen, was unveiled in April 2015. It pays homage to Doble's original but with some subtle changes. In particular, the position of the sword was changed from being raised in triumph to pointing down to earth. This has stopped it from acting as a lightning rod, which we discovered was a significant cause of the damage that had afflicted the original. So Doble's legacy lives on, both in original form at the AWM, and in reinterpreted form in its original location, and the citizens of Marrickville once again have a focal point to honour their local war heroes.
For more information
Marrickville Council / Australian War Memorial
Sculpture Conservation / Object Conservation
The new Winged Victory