The Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize, Larissa

Larissa Zanardo, Year 11 at Sacred Heart College, Geelong, wins The Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize competition. Out of 100s of entries Larissa, has been chosen as 1 of 22 students to represent Victoria on an all expenses paid overseas study tour to Darwin & Singapore. She is the only recipient from Western Victoria. The photo shows her holding her winning entry. Congratulations Larissa, we wish you all the very best on what will be an amazing trip! Below are the written statement and poem she sent in.


Description of artwork: Size: 61cm x 61cm Materials: Printed paper sheets, acrylic paint, charcoal on canvas.

Written Statement

On Anzac day, I feel an emotional pang in my chest. I love this day, when my connection with those who served in WW1 flourishes. My intrigue with WW1 motivated me and made research exceedingly interesting. My enthusiasm to explore history, drove me to constantly dig deeper for more information, leading me to a variety of primary and secondary sources. My research included: websites, music, books, lectures, letters, Anzac services and visits to the Shrine of Remembrance (Melb.) to gain historical information which I compiled in a data chart. The most valuable and enlightening sources were letters from the Smythe family who served in WW1. They presented me with a deep insight into the critical essence of war.

To express the emotions and my knowledge of WW1, I realised these would be received best in an artwork/poem. I was drawn to poems which, though quickly read, leave a strong and lasting impact.  Layering a poem conveys specific emotions and meanings, and if you unpack the layers of the poem, the significance is enlightening. To me, words and visuals are equally as important to captivate the reader and to provoke perception. This is why I included both written and visual. Including the painting adds tone, prompting the emotions through the colour palette and texture. Creating an abstract painting was ideal. This puts forth my intentions for the painting in terms of the depiction of war, yet it keeps it open for interpretation. By not supplying the viewer every detail, they examine and explore the piece thoroughly to find their own inspiration/understanding from the artwork.

My format relates to my research, as many poems were written, as well as letters by soldiers, in WW1. My poem entwines both of these, and the pages have an aged and authentic look. The painting component relates to my research as paintings have always been used as a way to spark emotions and for record keeping. Both formats are examples of what I learnt about WW1. The design of my artwork/poem reinforces the idea that ‘All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal’- John Steinbeck. The poem describes the aspects of the theme and the painting sparks emotions and relevance in the viewer. It has the war in the background, a grenade exploding, and men fighting and dying, with a tombstone in the foreground.

In conclusion, war shows us how thoughtless we can be, enforcing horrors on each other. War has the ability to turn people into something they are not, brutally taking away everything we love and ending in sorrow. Steinbeck believed, ‘All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal’. If this is just a symptom, what does the end result mean for humankind? We can only hope that humans have developed and learnt from their mistakes, therefore succeeding as a thinking animal. My knowledge has expanded immensely and the Anzac spirit is like a flame forever in my heart. Lest we forget.


What we did is done, what we saw has stained

We must live with the events from 1914 that have become ingrained

Our country called upon me to go and willingly I complied

The white feather would not mark me as I dressed in khaki with pride

With our allies and my sense of nationalism I said my goodbyes

Trying to be a hero, you told a lie so you could come with the guys

My brother, you had false expectations of the war to any extent

To Euripides, Egypt and Darefflinger we went

Leaving everything we knew and loved behind

Drawn into the evil and killing we justify for humankind

The men on the field fall down one after the other

Our spirit is no longer a fire, it’s a flame and even that will smother

Men clutch their arms, necks and head, others are hurt inside

They are not worthy of the wound strip and directed back to the tide

The awful scream and hiss of the exploding shell as it obliterates

Men driven insane by the stink of the rotting bodies of their mates

March one by one into the firing line of their foes

Dodge, creep, fire, stab, the boys go on and on despite their woes

Never resting, fighting for those back home in their den

Their wives and kids who they may never see again

Who are working hard in the factories, without a brother or dad

And trying to make it through a day without getting sad

Remember Our Brigade Major? And what he said?

“I’m here to be sniped at.” Dead.

Some find it the easy way out

Me? I fight til I fall without doubt

Buried by the bodies and mud, I squeeze to the gassy air

Men fighting men, what part of this is fair?

I hear more orders and I follow

Just a part of an order chain with no influence. I’m hollow

Yet the men yelling at us are never the ones to fall with us

It’s years ago, yet I still see it diurnal

The guilt and trauma that’s forever internal

The things we did are unspeakable, creating catacombs

To men just like us who have families and homes

We were using our energy to destroy ourselves eternally

Our wounds have only healed externally

Only humans would be so dull to plan and execute mass killing

Unlike other animals, we were aware of what we were doing, almost willing

War shows us how much we have failed whilst wielding a knife

During the war a young bugger saved my life

This mere boy got shot in the head trying to protect me

And that was you, the man that didn’t flee

Brother, you were taken for less then you were worth

I just hope you can forgive this poor and suffering earth

Our greed and aggression took our children to maim

None of us are the same

We are the ghosts of those heroes that are spare

Neither really here nor there

This is what we are capable of and this issue is vexed

What will happen next?