The Gallipoli Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire was conceived and designed by Nadir Imamoğlu. Nadir has given us the story of how the memorial came into being (in both English and Turkish), together with a little about himself:
STORY OF THE GALLIPOLI MEMORIAL AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM
I was first introduced to National Memorial Arboretum when a friend asked me to help him to design the Sumatra Railway Memorial. There I met David Childs, the founder of the NMA. He was very polite and helpful. He told me he had worked in Ankara for Nato and spoke a few words of Turkish. The Arboretum was a new project and David needed all the help he could get. I asked him if there was a plot put aside for Gallipoli. The answer was yes but at the time there was no interest in it. So I volunteered to design and build the Gallipoli Memorial.
I observed that masonry was the most common material used for most of the memorials. I wanted to do something different for Gallipoli. I felt that Arboretum was going to play a very important part for the younger generation in the area. So I chose to use contemporary materials that would draw their attention.
Another aspect of my task was to deal with the actual location of Gallipoli. I felt that there was a need to tell visitors where exactly the peninsula was. After all, the location, layout and landscape played such an important part during the conflict.
So I came up with the idea of a treble arched frame which holds a glass mosaic map of the Gallipoli peninsula in the centre and the two wings showing four different plates each containing a different message:
A summary of the Gallipoli War.
Captain Aspinall`s text written when they first arrived at Gallipoli.
A map of Gallipoli showing its position in Turkey, Europe and the World.
M.K.Ataturk`s speech of forgiveness (in Turkish and in English).
The central glass mosaic map is to scale; it highlights clear blue waters of the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean Sea. I thought choosing mosaic technique was appropriate as it was commonly used in this part of the world by Romans and later by Byzantines. The frame is located so that the arc of the sun is behind it.
There are 9 dead oak trees set in a semi- circle to the rear of the Memorial. These trees are the 16 to 23 years old which correspond to the average age of the soldiers fought at Gallipoli. They are pollarded in such a way that they resemble human hands reaching for the skies. I always had a deep feeling for the suffering of the wounded lying between trenches. I remembered a quote from Plato “…the war is over only for the dead.” Also, in the old black and white war films showing devastation of nature, in particular burnt out trees at the back ground of war zones played an important part in my mind. These charred trees were vertical mirrors of horizontal surface of battle fields. I wanted to capture and display that feeling. By way of representing hope and forgiveness there are 9 holme oaks which is a native of Gallipoli Peninsula and are planted behind each dead tree.
The symbolism does not end there. The figure 9 is an approximate figure representing main nations involved in the conflict. I wondered why young men as far as Canada, New Zealand and Australia parts iof Africa and Asia came all the way to this quiet peninsula to fight young Turkish men in a deadly conflict at such a peaceful location. Fate, I thought has played such an important part here. To reflect element of fate, I ran a chain between the 9 dead trees thus tying them together into a single sculpture, a sculpture of mixed and deep running emotions.
There is sign in front of the Memorial with cast iron lettering that reads GALLIPOLI 1915. It has lead canopy with a rope edging, a gentle hint of the Naval Battle of Dardanelles in 18th March.
All elements of the Memorial are arranged to cascade down from the tree sculpture down so that a visitor standing in front can catch a sight of all of them at once.
There is a contributors plate to the side of the memorial giving the names of all the people and Midlands firms who so generously helped me with building of the Gallipoli Memorial. Finally the plate shows that my work is dedicated my mother, Bedriye Ersamli.
On 25th April 2004 the Gallipoli Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum was formally opened with messages from H.M.The Queen and the Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Representatives from many nationalities attended the Service which was conducted by David Childs. There were Hymns in English and Turkish. A Turkish hymn from Yunus Emre was sung by Turkish soprano, Mrs.Muge Ozel.
NADIR IMAMOGLU was born in Ankara on 16th April 1947.
He studied at Ankara College and Ankara University.
He played football for the youth team of Genclerbirligi while he was a student between 1964 and 1966.
In January 1974 he emigrated to England. He worked as a self employed architect. He was elected as County Councillor in May 1993. He also served as a District and Parish Councillor. He has been the Chairman of his local Parish Council in Great Wyrley, Staffordshire where he was also the Chairman of the Residents Association.
He has always been involved with football, as a player, player-manager and a referee registered with Staffordshire Football Association. He also designed pavilions in overseas trade fairs notably in some of the Middle Eastern and North African capitals such as Damascus, Cairo and Tripoli. After being involved in so many projects for others, he designed and built a sports complex for himself during 1996 at Long Lane, Essington where he now lives with son in the care-takers bungalow named after his home town, Angora. He ran a successful amateur team called Wyrley Rangers here until 2007.
In 2003-04 he designed and built two memorials at the National Memorial Arboretum, Sumatra Railway Memorial and Gallipoli Memorial.