This ANZAC Day Spare a Thought…

My father, born 1921, died 3 years ago, was of the mindset or generation who deliberately chose not to talk about his war years! In fact, as far as I recall most of his experience or memorabilia was never presented to the family. My children, in more recent years encouraged my father to reveal old photos, documents, squadron medals and uniform, certificates etc. Of course they were fascinated and marveled at any details he would elaborate upon. For many children who haven’t experienced war – it offers intrigue; little do they know of the sacrifices, atrocities, and harshness of this experience.

May I preface, the comments below are mine. I have not been to war, and I have had no war experience, it is out of respect I write today on this occasion of great significance for all Australians.

Sidney Nolan Art

‘Gallipoli’ by Sidney Nolan

Post any war, and tour of duty the side effects are now being spoken of, whereas in years have gone by where the impacts of war were not addressed or discussed. For those who serve our country in war or the services whilst the recognition of honoir is a given, as with the commitment, there is a great price to pay!

From the time of enlistment in the armed forces:
I personally reflect upon the courage and fortitude to do so, apart from the displacement from loved ones! Odds of survival are low, and certainly in the past death common.

The training, deployment, and duties:
Requiring faith, study, practice and dedication. Bravery, strength of character and courage are and will be tested.

The return from active duty, and life after war, and battle:
For the fortunate, those who can adjust and return to life as before, accept your blessings. However the mental anguish of war, and post-traumatic stress are all too common. We now realise these are not time specific i.e. short, medium or long term; and cannot be simplified to a timeline. Mental trauma, stress, and its treatment never have a quick fix available. The memories, or scars of war run deep, and are personal. How the individual personally responds, and recovers from the war experience can be an on going concern. Fellow servicemen, and women have similar experiences of war, and in this unity some comfort, and healing can be found. To survive battle is an achievement, and to integrate back into civilian society is another.

Service people who give their lives to war can never be acknowledged enough, nor the sacrifice their families have endured. Nor would they want daily reminders. I’m sure they wouldn’t wish for our acknowledgement of their service but would welcome our support in a practical, understanding, and sensitive manner. They will choose if they want to share their war experience. We are there to listen, and should acknowledge the privilege to do so.

The featured painting (pictured) ‘Gallipoli’ by Sidney Nolan dated 1959. For me it offers a presentation of two soldiers in “war dress” being thrust forward as ‘war examples’ set against a mottled and indistinct background. The semblance of a random landscape behind the soldiers disguises the chaotic environment of war. The lack of colour, and rawness of the paint texture give the impression of ‘nothingness’ when in fact it perfectly portrays a screen of blandness showing no hint of the effects of war only that of certain darkness! This is a poignant picture of war, both emotive and powerful.

As a collectable piece, this painting titled ‘Gallipoli’ is valuable both in the genre of this Australian and International artist’s lifetime of art. Sidney Nolan’s is regarded as one of our finest painters and his reputation is extensive having his art represented in all State Galleries of Australia, University collections and private collections. The ‘Gallipoli series’ is well represented in the Australian War Museum, Canberra which possesses 245 artworks – works on paper and oil paintings. This painting on offer is one of a few war themed paintings in circulation and arguably the most important painted. Principally this is why it is most collectible, for its rareness and the topical significance of the painting as a memory of the “2015 100th Anniversary of Gallipoli”, a defining national occasion, and a pertinent symbol for all Australians leading up to this important historical date.

For serious art collectors, war memorabilia collectors and/or historians this is a major painting and the opportunity to acquire it represents a unique, and rare opportunity. Please enquire at the gallery or ring me personally on 0418 492 259 for viewing, and for a complete provenance of this artwork. Additionally, I also have a work on paper from the ‘Gallipoli’ series on offer. This is a 1969 ripolan on paper. Further details can be provided.

Finally, this ANZAC day, I encourage you to spare a thought for our our fallen, and all who have contributed to our Australian war effort – past and present, we thank you for your efforts.

Yours in art,
Mark Widdup

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