Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Violet Verses: Free Event 2nd 3rd 4th July 2015 at the barracks at Torrens Parade Ground

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.

Violet Day raised funds for the Cheer Up Hut

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.”

Spectacular animations transforming the barracks at Torrens Parade Ground

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:

Event details – show times and dates, parking, maps, food, what to bring etc –

Project information and credits –



Project Partners

Violet Verses is proudly presented by illuminart in association with History SA.

This project was funded under the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.


  • Illuminart
  • History SA
  • Anzac Centenary Coordination Unit
  • Adelaide City Council
  • Channel 9
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Mosaic AV
  • Arts SA


  • State Library of South Australia
  • Art Gallery of South Australia
  • SA Museum
  • University of Adelaide
  • Adelaide Festival Centre
  • Adelaide City Council
  • Albany Artistic Community and Organisations (WA Museum, City of Albany Public Library, Albany Historical Society)