Art Almanac congratulates Newcastle artist Deirdre Bean, winner of the 2022 Gallipoli Art Prize (a $20,000 acquisitive prize auspiced by the Gallipoli Memorial Club), with her painting Along the ride to Damascus featuring a sword used by Australian Light Horse battalions in WWI.
Bean’s winning work is intricately rendered in oil paint on canvas using ultra-fine brushes. The sword, scabbard and leather-bound “swagger stick” featured in the painting belong to a private collector who loaned the precious items to Bean so she could draw and then paint them from life.
“It has been my art practice in recent years to rediscover items such as these: precious, meaningful items that are locked away and in danger of being forgotten,” says Bean.
“My ambition is to ‘relove’ them by bringing them briefly into the light and, with careful handling, reimagine them in paint on canvas. This sword now has a new alternative life. The stories it evokes are retold, conversations are had, and information shared. We remember, lest we forget.”
A revered botanical artist, Bean’s first artist trip to Gallipoli was in 2013, which prompted her to begin painting weaponry and other battlefield relics. In 2017 she was one of twelve artists included in an art expedition to the WWI battlefields in France and Belgium to explore Australian history and memories of the Great War.
The judges: Jane Watters, Barry Pearce, John Robertson and Elizabeth Fortescue, highly commended Geoff Harvey for his painting Lest we forget (4 seasons) made up of four panels depicting a war memorial in different seasons of the year. Harvey says in his artist statement, “The seasons come and the seasons go, as the years pass, but these statues continue to hold their posts steadfast and reliable as silent sentinels of remembrance in an ever-changing landscape . . . Lest We Forget.”
The Gallipoli Art Prize invites artists to respond 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 2022 Gallipoli Art Prize finalists’ exhibition can be viewed at The Cleland Bond Store, 33 Playfair Street, The Rocks, Sydney, from 21 April to 8 May 2022 or online: gallipoliartprize.org.au.