Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Buried Treasure 2010

I'm back dear blog readers!
It has been a little while since I have said hello to you all. I have been away in the land of parties, hangovers and pain killers for a few weeks engaging in some much needed family fun time, only to return and find the wonderful Seth Apter has announced the return of Buried Treasure for 2010!

A fun must do event last year, I could not wait for the chance to jump right in and play again this year, although I do admit that last years blog cruising resulted in some much needed physio therapy for one's butt! However, not to worry , I have stocked up on pain relief, booked the husby for remedial butt therapy sessions and am fighting fit and ready to play once again!

But what to post?

After cruising back over the last years posts, there were a couple that were close to the heart for a number of reasons, but one remains for me a standout. There are certain art pieces that connect with us. Either as artists or viewers it doesn't matter the connection is undeniable. Some pieces just insist on being created. They nag at us and persist to be heard until the artist just gives in and allows that creative flow to occur. The post I have chosen to drag out of the vault is about one of those pieces for me. It's a little lengthy, so grab a cuppa and sit back, I hope you will stick it out to the end, it was a heck of a ride to create and I hope you enjoy it too!

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A Photograph, some History, and 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.
And there you have fellow blog readers, the end.
I hope you all enjoyed the story, even though it was a long one. Thank you to Seth for another chance to retell the story of the piece. The Pulp Redux collaboration still continues and you can continue to follow the progress of everyones books there. Pop in we'ld love to see you there!
Oh and by the way, I know the name of a fabulous butt therapist if you need one, LOL!
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