An award-winning artist has received a telephone call from the anti-terror squad over a post he made on Facebook comparing the aesthetic qualities of Australian and German war memorials.
Aussie artist Gareth Ernst, who has recently been dividing his time between Sydney and Berlin, is believed to have come to the attention of Australia’s anti-terror squad for his comments on social media which compared the aesthetic and artistic qualities of Sydney’s ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park to similar monuments in the Germany city.
Mr Ernst received the call from police the night before the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in which he was taking part in one of the lead floats. Mr Ernst has previously been awarded grants from the City of Sydney and City of Yarra for his artistic endeavours.
It is believed Mr Ernst was told by a police officer that his comments on Facebook could be construed as “threatening a public structure”.
The artist who is known for his off-the-cuff drawings revealed all about the incident with the country’s anti-terror police in a Facebook post on Friday, March 3.
“You know that post I put up a while ago? The one about how hideous the Sydney ANZAC war memorial is and how the Berlin one is so much more sensitive” Mr Ernst told his Facebook followers.
“And how I said the Sydney ANZAC war memorial should be hit with a World War One cannon shell and be replaced with a big crater full of poison gas and bits of body parts of humans and horses because that’s a truer memorial to what war really is? And how horrible a fifteen year old boy was killed at Gallipoli?
“Well I just got a call from the police anti terrorist squad for threatening a public structure.
“My first reaction is wow that that’s so weird and how did they have my number?”
Mr Ernst says he found it difficult to take the phone call from police seriously.
“And then I started laughing when I spoke with the police officer because it was all so dumb and my second thought is ‘Oh well, at least it shows that somebody cares’ ,” Mr Ernst said.
Mr Ernst’s great uncle Arthur fought as an 18-year-old on the western front during World War One before being injured and captured and put in a German prisoner of war camp.
“My mum still has the saddest letter he sent his mum back on the farm in Western Australia in 1917,” Mr Ernst recalls. “In the letter, he asks how everyone is and how the chickens are.”
The artist says his original post on Facebook was trying to make a point about what the real sacrifices and costs of war are and how to best portray that artistically for future generations.
“I think the Germans get it,” Mr Ernst said.
“I think sculptors like Kathe Kollwitz get it with her little bronze sculpture of Tower of the Mothers which shows a group of ragged women locked in a circle arm in arm defending their children in the middle because that’s what it’s really about.”
Mr Ernst is no stranger to recent controversy, having made headlines in 2015 when an art exhibit he hosted inside his own inner-city Sydney apartment received a written complaint from a neighbour over several artworks displaying drawings of nude men.
“Warning from concerned parent,” the note of complaint read. “You are free to express yourself. But not with drawings of naked men with hard genitals, in full view of children.
“You have to be stoped (sic).”
NSW Police refused to provide a response on the latest matter when contacted by True Crime News Weekly.
UPDATE: True Crime News Weekly received a comment from a NSW Police spokesperson following the publication of our story. The spokesperson said:
“On Thursday 2 March 2017, NSW Police received a report from an officer at a non-governmental agency (not police) on a Facebook post relating to a memorial in Hyde Park.
“After inquiries by officers from Sydney City local area command, no further action was required to be taken. The incident is not linked to terrorism.”