Colin’s first blog
For my first art blog I thought I should give some background to my Australian series
Its title is Gallipoli, Landscape - heritage and sacrifice.
These works are the product of a visit Christine and I made to Australia and New Zealand early last year. We visited relatives and friends and did a lot of traveling around and exploring. Now that I’m doing my Fine Art course at Petroc College and I was, in theory, supposed to be at college I got a dispensation to do my site project based on what I found in our tour.
This was the perfect excuse to visit some amazing art galleries, do lots of painting and drawing and speak to some great people about art things. Above all what soon became obvious was the difference the light made. It was bright and warm and sunny just about every day and when I got out my paint box I used different colours. There was a vibrancy and richness we don’t often get in North Devon. Additionally there were trees, birds, sounds, vistas we never get in North Devon or even Europe. When I travel around our countryside I can tell you what the trees are from a long distance away. When I look around the trees I can tell you the names of the plants that are around them. I know why our landscapes are the way they are. Not in Australia. It was all new, different. It is a relatively new culture and the impact immigration has made on the development of the land has been enormous. Equally significant was the connection the people in Australia have for their ancestors homeland. Our visit could only touch the surface of the great vibrancy of culture and life there, but even with this caveat there was much that struck a chord. There is a massive commonality between our homeland and theirs. Imperialism, colonialism, wars, industrialisation on one hand and music, arts and culture on the other. Humanity often, usually, struggles between these two factions, if thats what they are?
I took with me my own connection to my European heritage and found something as beautifully profound as what I have in my own homeland. The pain and joy we as humans bear and share is not separated by man made boundaries or borders.
The first piece of my Australian series is a personal interpretation of these interwoven ideas and qualities. It is a summary and statement of the relationship between sacrifice and heritage. The soldier is a New Zealander eating from a tin of bully beef, flies hovering around the tin. He is on the battlefield in Gallipoli. The poppies on the right were knitted by ladies in a small town in New Zealand to remember the boys who died in their community in the 2 world wars. The fluid charged landscape between them is meant to depict the power and movement within the new lands their parents had colonised.
The words written onto the painting are from the powerful anti-war song, And the band played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle. They say ‘ From the Murrays Green Basin to the dusty outback’
Throughout our visit we met many people who openly acknowledged the debt they owe to the sacrifice their forebears had made. I am profoundly moved whenever, wherever I see this, and my painting is my token of honour to them.
The painting went through several stages once I started working on paper.
There were ideas and sketches that I had made, and gradually some idea of what I was aiming for emerged. Firstly the composition was a collage, this was then copied and printed with onto art paper. The selected pieces and areas were recoloured by hand in watercolour and acrylic. Then the words of the song were written freehand and very laboriously with a fine nibbed pen and gesso which gave it a certain raised texture.