Soldiers bathing in Anzac Cove, a compelling portrait of 14-year-old Private James Martin in his ill-fitting Anzac uniform and a woman receiving devastating news via telegram – these are just some of the images depicted in artworks by the 35 finalists selected for the 2020 Gallipoli Art Prize. The winner of the $20,000 art prize will be announced on Thursday 16 April, in the lead up to Anzac Day.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Gallipoli Art Prize will not be hung in a public exhibition as has been done for the last 15 years of the Prize; instead, people are invited to experience the works online after 16 April. It is hoped that a physical exhibition can be held later in the year.
‘At a time when we are suffering great fear and loss worldwide, the Gallipoli Art Prize provides an important opportunity to reflect on periods of hardship in our collective history, including the 1919 influenza pandemic, and to commemorate those qualities that helped us through adversity,’ said John Robertson, President of the Club, and one of the prize judges.
The privately funded Prize, under the auspices of the Gallipoli Memorial Club in Sydney, invites artists to respond openly to the broad themes of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship as expressed in the Gallipoli Club’s creed;
We believe that within the community there exists an obligation for all to preserve the special qualities of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship which were personified by the heroes of the Gallipoli Campaign and bequeathed to all humanity as a foundation for perpetual peace and universal freedom.
The works in the Gallipoli Art Prize often tell personal and emotional stories. Each artist responds differently to the Gallipoli Club’s creed, making it a unique and diverse collection. The artworks are accompanied by artist statements providing poignant insight into their work.
Some of the finalists’ works relate directly to the experiences of family members who have served in the armed forces. Elizabeth McCarthy’s painting of Anzac Cove, With Fixed Bayonets They Went Straight Up the Hill Singing Tipperary, is inspired by entries in her grandfather’s Gallipoli diary. Bettina Fauvel-Ogden’s work In Memory of my Grandfather painted a portrait of her grandfather from an old wedding photo, re-imagined in a field of poppies.
The experience of women during wartime also features in this year’s works. Lori Pensini’s powerful work The Telegram is a tribute to the rural women like her grandmother who Pensini says in her accompanying statement ‘fought the loneliness of war and the ever lingering threat of an uncertain future on the land without their loved ones.’ Fleur Stevenson’s Heartland references the camouflage nets made by her grandmother to help protect her family fighting a war on the other side of the world from her New Zealand home.
Other finalists reference more recent events. In the statement accompanying her work Breathe depicting a series of gas masks, artist Alison Mackay talks of her personal experience of the recent bushfires, the mask she needed to wear for protection and the heroism of the Rural Fire Service. In the statement accompanying his work Silences artist David Mackay talks of the current battle against a silent enemy Coronavirus and how ‘Now more than ever, we are being asked to call on the prevailing qualities of the soldiers who fought in the Gallipoli campaign – ‘courage, comradeship, and respect’ as we fight this silent enemy to preserve the human race.’
The 2020 Gallipoli Art Prize finalists include:
Alison Mackay, Andrew Tomkins, Belle Raine, Betina Fauvel-Ogden, David McKay, Deidre Bean, Elise Judd, Elizabeth McCarthy, Emma Rebecca Liu, Errol Barnes, Fleur Stevenson, Geoff Harvey, Jessica Guthrie, Julianne Allcorn, Kristin Hardiman, Leigh Hooker, Lori Pensini, Margaret Hadfield, Mark Emerson, Mark Middleton, Maryanne Wick, Michael John Lodge, Michael Miller, Nick Howson, Nicola Wilson, Paul Gorjan, Peter Smeeth, Philip Meatchem, Raj Panda, Rodney Pople, Ross Townsend, Sally West, Sam Dabboussy, Shonah Trescott, and Sue Macleod-Beere.