Every year the paintings submitted to the Gallipoli Art Prize tell personal and often emotional stories about Australia’s involvement in armed conflict over the last century, making it a unique and important art competition that reflects deeply upon a nation’s identity and the legacy of war across generations.
The competition is open to all Australian, New Zealand and Turkish artists responding to the broad themes of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship as expressed in the Gallipoli Club’s creed. The paintings do not need to depict warfare and artists can respond to the creed in relation to any conflict in which Australia has been involved from 1915 up to the present day.
This year’s 39 finalist works vary greatly in subject matter with each entry accompanied by a heartfelt written statement from the artist about their painting.
Noel Kelly’s portrait The Last Fuzzy Wuzzy depicts Ovuru Ndiki, one of the last ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ of Papua New Guinea, a name given to local people who carried supplies to the forward troops and helped evacuate the wounded back down the Kodoka Trail in 1942. In recent years, groups walking the Kokoda Trail would visit Ndiki in his village and present him with patches and pins that he would display on his tunic as depicted in the painting. Ndiki passed away in 2013.
Many artists chose to depict their relatives, revealing the intergenerational legacy of war. Other works capture those who were left behind or those who return irrevocably changed by their experiences such as Andrea Malone’s portrait of Thommo, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD. Landscape and animals are also features, from Anzac Cove to Cape Helles, from a field of poppies in bloom to Sandy, the only horse out 136,000 to return home from WWI.
“If the Gallipoli Art Prize has a broader purpose it is to make us reflect deeply on our common humanity and hold fast to those beliefs that show national identity in the best possible light,” says judge John McDonald.
This year’s judging panel included John McDonald (writer and art critic for The Sydney Morning Herald), Jane Watters (Director, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney), Barry Pearce (former Head Curator of Australian Art, AGNSW), and John Robertson (Director, Gallipoli Memorial Club).
The winner of the $20,000 prize will be announced on Wednesday 19 April in Sydney by Alf Carpenter who, at 100 years old, is one of Australia’s oldest surviving ANZACs from the Battle of Crete. The winning painting and all finalist works will be on public display at the Gallipoli Memorial Club in Sydney from 20 to 28 April, 2017.
2017 Gallipoli Art Prize Finalists include; Alison Chiam, Alison Mackay, Amanda Penrose Hart, Amelia Willmer, Andrea Malone, Bernadette Harrigan, Bob Marchant, Carmel Cosgrove, Christian Morrow, Craig Handley, Craig Roach, Capt. Darlene Lavett, Darrell Miller, David Hayes, David Porter, Deborah Walker, Fleur Macdonald, Geoff Harvey, Glen Preece, Hugh Ramage, Ian Chapman, James Jian Shu Hu, John Colet School Yr 6, Judith White, Karen Macdonald, Kent McCormack, Kim Shannon, Kristin Hardiman, Lynne Mullane, Margaret Hadfield, Maryanne Wick, Max Berry, Noel Kelly, Peter Smeeth, Phil Hawke, Rex Turnbull, Steve Bowden, Susan Sutton and Tony Costa.