Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Photograph, some History, a Book- Pulp Redux update


It began slowly...






I was intrigued by a photograph...











that led me to search...






where I discovered a map...













that caused me to think...







about a nations beliefs...







and then it began...





Time for a short history lesson.


I'll try to stay brief.


I have been watching with interest as libraries and museums around the world take up the opportunity to make a number of their historical photographs available to the public through a commons licence. (Fabulous effort to all and I applaude loudly at this generous effort by those who have taken it up. Thankyou for the material that has become available!) In browsing through the various photographs I became intrigued by pictures from the first world war, and in particular those relating to the Anzacs and their part in the Gallipoli campaign. Here's where the lesson kicks in.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Gallipoli in Turkey was the scene of a major catastrophe that resulted in a huge loss of life, for all participants on both sides of the divide during the first world war. For Australians and New Zealanders in particular it has reshaped our nations and united us with a bond that remains so strong it has never left us. Anzac is an acronym touted during the war that stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The word came to have such significance attached, and to represent such heroism that during the first world war when it was touted, the acronym was officially dropped and the word Anzac, was granted status as a word in its own right. On April 25th 1915, Great Britain and her troops from colonial India, Australia, New Zealand and her ally in France, attacked the Turkish coast first on the beaches of what is known to us as Anzac Cove and then around the rest of that headland. The next few months saw the cream of the nations men die in a futile attempt to take possession of a strip of land that would result in the deaths of thousands of men from both sides and that they would then withdraw from a few months later, resulting in a victory to the Ottoman empire. Almost 500,00 men from both sides lost their lives in a 9 month campaign.
It changed our nation.
Australians entered the war having implicit faith in the dominance of the British Empire, proud to be a part of that empire. We came out the other side, a nation altered, forged by war, really united together as Australians, for the first time. It has helped to shape our identity and it remains strong to this day.
Anzac day is a traditional holiday here. Thousands attend dawn services and line the streets to watch the marches of our veterans. The number of original Anzacs has dwindled with the passage of time to a few old men, but the places of those others who have passed away is held by their sons and grandsons who march for them, maintaining their place in the ranks of men. It is a touching sight. My own son has marched holding a placard inscribed with the name of a man who no longer lives or has any family to maintain his own place. In this way these men, and the sacrifices they made, are never forgotten.
And so the lesson ends.
I have wanted to do a piece representing the Anzacs for some time. It has been quietly smoldering away in the background, insisting on being heard as these things are sometimes want to do, but how to achieve that?
And then along came Fragments, Vestiges and Remains, my book in the Pulp Redux collaboration.
An opportunity to represent some small fragment of this time, these men and the reshaping of a nation.
And so, to the piece...

I cannot show you the before pictures or how the piece developed and was put together. I would like to, but was so caught up in it's creation that I forgot to take any photographs!

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I can tell you that the background was constructed using gesso, acrylic paint washes, metallic waxes and walnut ink. I quite liked the patina it produces, it just took ages to dry!

The left side of the page is dominated by a map of the Dardanelles campaign. A reproduction curtesy of the Australian War Memorial.




While researching the campaign, I came across the papers of Pte. Francis William Edwards. Pte. Edwards joined the Australian Lighthorse in 1914 at the tender age of 22. After training, young Francis shipped out with his comrades to Egypt then onto Gallipoli. He lost his life there in May 1915.


Under the map, a glimpse of a life lived.






The piece is representational of the lives of the men who fought in this campaign.

I have constructed a niche in the book pages and gathered some possessions to represent the life of a soldier.
What remains of his belongings, and a life lived.

Included here are copies of some of the papers of Pte. Edwards, pictures of some of the Anzacs, and some items which would have been typical of a mans belongings at this time. I could not however in my research find any photograph of Pte. Edwards himself. ( Many thanks to Australian War Memorial for their photographs which are reproduced here under a commons licence).

I have also reproduced a diary and included excerpts from diaries kept by some of the original Anzac soldiers. Just a few that pertain to the events portrayed here.



The page as it looks under the map.






A reminder of those lives lost on the opposite page.






This page contains a dedication to those men who died in this campaign.

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A series of doors and windows.






A closer view...






The words spoken so eloquently then, resound just as poignantly today.

The words are not my own but reproduced from a newspaper article of the time in 1917 (I think!!!). I don't have the original paper it came from. With the rise of the popularity of the term Anzac came a profusion of businesses trying to trade in on the sentiments of the nation. Anyone and everyone tried to cash in, until eventually the government of the times stepped in and prevented anyone from using the word without licence to do so. Hence the loss of the acronym and the infusion of the word Anzac into our national heritage.


And then there's the ode...




The ode is recited at every official Anzac day memorial service held today.




Opposite the ode, a fragment of a letter, chosen to represent those thousands of letters sent from home to the boys at the front.



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And then...


The remains of our flag, tattered and torn...





representing the vestiges of the nations beliefs...




reborn and reshaped...





into something far stronger.





And a picture is chosen...




of a young soldier...





to represent thousands of others, long since gone.





I could not resist this boys eyes in the photograph.
An unknown Australian soldier.
He too lost his life. He could be Francis.

At least he can be, here.

(Picture courtesy of the Australian War Memorial and reproduced here under a commons licence).


And so the end of a very long post. Hope you weren't bored.

So now the book will be winging its way accross oceans to Alicia and the then the rest of the girls, with a little suprise inside! I can't wait to see what they all do in the book. Of course their input will be completely different as I have not set any topic for this book but want it to reflect each artists individual take on the theme. I have reserved the last section of the book for something else by myself but you will have to wait for those fragments until it wings its way back home again at a later date.
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21 comments:

ARISTIONO NUGROHO said...

Hi friend, peace...
Your blog very interesting.
If you willing visit my blog, and read my article at http://sosiologidakwah.blogspot.com
And... if you love books, read The Holy Qur'an please...

La Dolce Vita said...

wow! this is amazing and I had heard of Gallipoli, but I was unfamiliar with the story or the reason for your countries bond together. this is just visually chewy, Kim, love the metal and the map the soft and hard textures juxtaposed together! fabulous work!!! xoxox

Jill Zaheer said...

Your whole book is amazing! As I read each of your paragraphs, I am spellbound by the intricate story, the treasures that you've included, the whole story of the word Anzac, the story of the war and the struggles of the people, lives lost, and the honor and tribute that you have paid to those that fought for your country - binding everyone together. It's touching, poignant, detailed and love all of the intricate items you've inlcuded. Thanks for this wonderful story to read! A real holiday gift!

Jo Archer said...

Hi Kim, I too only knew a little about Gallipoli, so thanks for enlightening us. This is a truly wonderful piece; so sad, but a lovely tribute. Hope you are having a great holiday.

La Dolce Vita said...

I am so glad I came back for a second look, obviously the post was not finished when I viewed it. you have me all teary eyed, dear friend. what a beautiful post and such poignant and gorgeous work! I think this just a spectacular piece of work and a magnificent tribute !

Seth said...

What an incredible creation Kim. Even without the background story, this book is brilliant. But add the fascinating history you have shared and the project is taken to another level. I am so inspired I linked to this post from the Inspiration Station icon on the sidebar of my blog!

rivergardenstudio said...

This is a gorgeous book... happiest of new years to you, roxanne

Debrina said...

Hi ya, Kim! Wow - can it get much better? I just keep scrolling up, then down, then up, then down your page...well, you get the idea, lol! I know these photos have already featured on Pulp Redux, but I just can't get enough of them!! I'm glad to see Seth has spotlighted YOU on his inspiration station! Absolutely he made the right choice there! This book you've created is so thoroughly amazing, I'm spotlighting you on my next posting (I'll call you number 8 - the surprise feature artist from the MeMe award follow up).

I'm about to do some research today via the New Zealand National Library's Archival digitisation collection. Isn't it so exciting that libraries are doing this; I feel proud to be able to call myself a librarian!

You're fantastic Kim! I can't wait to see what you get up to next year!!!

Marie said...

Kim,
Congrats on being featured on the "inspiration" station on Seth's blog.
(So many of us think of him as the "rock star" of art blogging and he so generously shares his space with marvelous talents like yourself.)
Your book spread is outstanding and your research and explanation follow the steps of the creative process perfectly. It is wonderful to see your book take form in such a beautiful manner from conception to sharing your work.

La Dolce Vita said...

WOOHOO! you INSPIRATION YOU!!! Congratulations my friend! bask in the glory would you!!! xoxoxox

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

Kim ~ I am quite blown away with what you've created and with what you have honored in so doing! hard to put into words for me!

Brightest of Blessings to you and yours in the New Year! It certainly is a pleasure to be able to visit you here in the land of blog!
oxo

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

Dame Kim, please come to my blog!
I will be back to read your post properly soon:)
Happy NY to you and yours!

alteredbits said...

i am just blissfully giddy that this tremendous masterpiece is on its way to me. i adore this book! it's an artistic masterpiece and so touching and meaningful as well. i cannot believe with all that you've had going on with the move, work, and sickies that you did so much!

i will let you know when it gets here, though i'm quite certain you'll hear my weeeeeeeees and squeals from across the many oceans and miles. :)

happy new year, sweet friend!

Debrina said...

Hi again Kim! Happy New year! I thought I'd pop over to give you some more info on ICE. The theme is open slather; the only specifications are size and the fact that it must be collage (mixed media can be incorporated). The theme I've chosen for my series is "Green" because this is something I've been thinking about doing for a while. You don't actually have to have a theme. You could just make 13 different collages and tht could be your submission. Here's the link to get a flavour for it:
http://outofsight.co.nz/Dale/collage.htm
The fee is $40 of your own currency but that is well worth it for what you get in return. It would be so cool to have you on board. We could swap ideas and give each other encouragement, etc. It would be so neat! No pressure of course. We could even do complementary collages - perhaps you could explore the connotations of "Green" in Australia. But I get ahead of myself...lol!

Luna said...

Wow! Don´t know what to say...it´s simple fantastic!

Trudi Sissons said...

Wow Kim - you've taken altered books to a new level with this poignant and visually packed creative piece.
Bravo! Such divine talent

alteredbits said...

my mail has just arrived and still no book -- i am SURE it's going to arrive tomorrow as i dreamed it came in a tiny parcel while i dozed off for a wee bit this morning (i only got 2 hours of sleep -- not trying to be lazy). i know it's not tiny, but the dream may be right about it's imminent arrival! i'm ever so excited!

Jen Crossley said...

Kim
THis book is just awesome I love everything you have done you have really done an amazing job
Jen

alteredbits said...

omg, omg, it's finally arrived!! your book is so amazingly gorgeous in this post but i almost fainted seeing it and touching it in person. it's beyond gorgeous -- so utterly amazing and perfect. i am sooooooo excited!

and thank you so very much for the wonderful gift inside. you are such a kind and wonderful lady! i have the perfect place on my "favorite art" wall and my husby is hanging it for me tonight. thank you so much -- i will treasure this always. i picked the blue, just so you know -- 2/5. :)

many loves and hugs and many more thanks!! i can't wait to get started tomorrow. just have to narrow down a few ideas and find this wonderful thing i've been saving for months to include in the book (i have had it since i was a little girl and knew it had to go into your book when i found it).

Kerin said...

I was on the phone with Alicia when she opened the package so experienced it vicariously through her reaction and going back to look at the pages she described as they were in person. I had said I'd drive to Portland to see this and if I had the time I definitely would DO IT just to see this in person. This is so amazing and magnificent I do hope to see hold it some day!!! This is a huge inspiration to me, Kim!

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