In many countries around the world 11 November is a special day - commemorated as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Poppy Day. This special day has been observed since the end of WWI in recognition of the sacrifices made in the line of duty during war.
Here in Australia and New Zealand on the 25 April (ANZAC DAY) we also pay respect to the debt we owe those who have fought in wars and sacrificed so much to keep us safe.
This year saw the end to the involvement of the Allied Forces in Afghanistan when all troops were withdrawn in August 2021. In the light of this Rowdy Wylie (an Art4life contributor) was compelled to produce a painting that showed recognition of the Australian and New Zealand service men and women who served in Afghanistan.
I will let Rowdy tell you about his painting ANZACS - FAR FROM HOME Afghanistan 2001 - 2021 which is a Quadriptych (H40cm x W160cm) and was painted in oil on timber board.
This was a very enjoyable but challenging composition to paint… mainly because I wanted to show respect and remembrance to our service men and women.
For some time I have been keen to paint an ANZAC composition…. My thoughts were focused on the many “conflicts of war” that Australians and New Zealanders have been involved in since the “Boer War” of the late 1800s and early 1900s... through to the present day tours of duty by our defence services….
With much deliberation I felt very strongly about our current conflict in “Afghanistan” … specifically the turmoil and challenges of our returned service men and women as they re-established themselves back in their individual communities with family and friends in environments very different to the intensity of the foreign lands where they had been serving.
So my composition choice was the “Afghanistan” conflict…. I wanted to represent all the essential features... so decided to break the painting into four sections.
The country of Afghanistan is steeped in history and I have always been amazed by the “Afghan culture” both in Afghanistan and also here in the Australian outback…
Afghans are reported to have come to Australia as early as 1838... but by the latter part of the 19th century several thousand men from Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashmir, Sind, Rajasthan, Egypt, Persia, Turkey and Punjab, but collectively known as "Afghans", were recruited during initial British development of the Outback, especially for the operation of camel trains in desert areas. The first Afghan cameleers arrived in Melbourne in June 1860, when three men arrived with a shipment of 24 camels for the Burke and Wills expedition. 2
In addition to this … I am absolutely fascinated by the magnificent Afghanistan landscape with all its mountainous scenery…
When I was completing the final stages of the composition and visual narrative representing elements of the conflict… the USA, Australia, N.Z and Great Britain decided to “withdraw” and end the conflict…. After being active in the region for 20 years…
My thoughts about the composition is that the viewers' eyes are drawn immediately to the bright “red” poppies and the “Rising Sun” badge worn as the official insignia of the Australian Army... which I feel is the “Brand” of Australia and worn with great pride...
Then scanning the “quadriptych landscape” from left where the army's camp enclosure and vehicles are dwarfed by the expanse of landscape...
...to the right… finishing on the details of the fourth panel… of the road disappearing into the distance to the village at the base of the snow capped mountains…
I decided to donate the painting to the Port Pirie RSL for their Military Museum…… which has an amazing display of “war time memorabilia”…
I was really pleased that ANZACS - FAR FROM HOME Afghanistan 2001 - 2021 was going to such a great venue for display.
Yesterday I visited the Port Pirie RSL Military Museum and delivered the painting ... a documentary painting according to John Pickup, my art advisor.
The painting will be “hung” in the Iraq and Afghanistan section… pictured in the photo above is Jeff…the “Museum Curator”…… I am very pleased the “Quadriptych” found such an appropriate home in the RSL...a pleasing conclusion to a work that holds such a wealth of history.
A comment from Anne
Earlier this year when Rowdy told me that he was planning a painting to show his respect for the dedication and sacrifice made by the Australian and New Zealand troops in Afghanistan I was delighted that we would have such a personal and powerful painting to use as a reflection for 11 November.
I was thrilled when I saw the painting - a wonderful composition, so heartfelt; the inclusion of the poppies and the Rising Sun emblem - so stark a reminder of the historical narratives woven into the war torn landscape.
Rowdy has blended the armed forces and their war equipment into the composition in a very clever way - almost camouflaged by the colours of the earth.
The fourth panel on the right highlights the juxtaposition and contrast created by the armed forces and their vehicles against the buildings of the Afghan village - such a powerful reminder that within this war torn country ordinary people are trying to live their lives as best they can.
We hope this post encourages the AnArt4Life subscribers to Take a minute for Remembrance…. Not only in memory of those who fight for the freedoms we believe in, but also for those people who live in the countries where such freedoms seldom exist.
Lest We Forget.
1. The text and images shown in this post are the property of John Wylie, Port Eliott, South Australia
You might like to leave a comment in recognition of people, who in many ways, sacrifice so much in working to make this a better world.