Before The Poppy Came The Violet – 100th Anniversary of Violet Day
Thursday 2 July 2015 marks the centenary of a uniquely South Australian commemorative event – the first large-scale Violet Day to be held in Australia. On this day in 1915 violets were sold all over the State by the Cheer Up Society, another South Australian innovation, created to raise funds for soldiers wounded at Gallipoli.
To celebrate this historic occasion, Violet Verses, a sound and light spectacular, will animate the Training Depot at the Torrens Parade Ground with storytelling projections. It will run for three nights only from Thursday 2 – Saturday 4 July.
A FREE event for the whole family, this is a chance to see evocative images of life in Adelaide during the First World War, along with moving stories of the home front. Discover what the Cheer Up Society was, and why violets are so significant to South Australian history.
The story commemorates the women and volunteers who established the Cheer Up Society and other volunteer organisations in response to the First World War. They provided support to men on the front, to the wounded and shell-shocked men who came home, and to bereaved wives, mothers and families. The Society first raised funds to build a soldiers’ clubhouse by selling violets around South Australia on 2 July 1915, including one bunch that sold in Burra for £384 – around $37,000 today. For years the Cheer Up Hut they built with the proceeds stood on the banks of the Torrens where the Adelaide Festival Centre is now located.
In advocating for soldiers the Cheer Up Society predated the RSL and was a uniquely South Australian response to the First World War. It was established, and run mainly by women. The Violet Day fundraiser they established continued for almost 60 years.
Margaret Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of History SA, says “Violet Day is a wonderful South Australian story and I’m very excited that 21st century technology will allow us to share it this year in such a creative way.”
Minister for Veterans Affairs, The Hon. Martin Hamilton-Smith, says, “Violet Verses will be a superb Anzac Centenary tribute to those on the home front who did so much to alleviate the impact of war.”
Violet Verses is created by Cindi Drennan and the team at Illuminart in partnership with History SA, Veterans SA, Mosaic AV, Channel 9 and the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Bring a chair, pack a rug to come and enjoy a grand scale son et lumière.
What: Violet Verses – FREE event for the whole family
Where: barracks at Torrens Parade Ground
When: Thursday 2 to Saturday 4 July at 6pm & 8pm
More info: www.violetverses.com.au