The new exhibition Salient: Contemporary artists at the Western Front is an opportunity for modern day visitors to reflect upon the impact that the First Word War had upon their own communities.
The national tour of the exhibition will commence with its opening at 6.00pm on the evening of Friday 23 March 2018 at the New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale.
The exhibition will be officially opened by Brad Manera, Senior Historian and Curator at the Anzac Memorial.
“In 2017 almost a century after the guns had fallen silent a group of leading Australian artists visited battlefields across the Western Front and create new works which look back upon the tragic history of these sites as well as the impact of these events upon our history, culture and society,” said Robert Heather, NERAM Art Museum Director.
“Once these sites were the scenes of desperate fighting involving young volunteer troops from Australia and New Zealand slaughtering their German counterparts and being slaughtered in turn in the world’s first real experience of industrialised warfare.”
“Today these battlefields are often serene pastoral scenes with fields of crops and livestock, forests, roads, farmhouses, town and villages with the occasional cemetery or memorial as the only marker that thousands of people died there and the devastation that occurred a century ago,” he said. “The contrast between the events that happened in these places and their current idyllic landscapes had a strong emotional impact upon all of the artists involved.
The participating artists Deidre Bean, Harrie Fasher, Paul Ferman, Michelle Hiscock, Ross Laurie, Steve Lopes, Euan MacLeod, Ian Marr, Idris Murphy Amanda Penrose Hart, Luke Sciberras and Wendy Sharpe, created new works in response to their experiences of these sites and their history.
Each artist has interpreted the events and the experience differently through the works that they have created and the trip has left an indelible impression upon them.
“The huge numbers of dead and missing, left me, like many others shaking my head with disbelief.” reflected Walcha based artist Ross Laurie. “Boys from my town, like many other died on these battlefields. How does one paint such a thing?”
The exhibition project follows on from the earlier Your Friend the Enemy residency project at Gallipoli in 2015 that was initiated by Robert Linnegar from King Street Gallery working with Paul Maneras that became a successful touring exhibition.
“These artists have investigated the lives of ancestors they never knew, some of whom still lie beneath these foreign fields,” said Paul Maneras. “They viewed these bucolic vistas burdened with the knowledge of the great tragedy that had befallen this land.”
“This exhibition reminds us that the echoes of the Great War generation have not died and that there is always worth in revisiting the places where great deeds were done.”
The New England Regional Art Museum has been working in partnership with King Street Gallery to develop and present this exhibition which will be on display from 24 March until 3 June 2018 before touring to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Anzac Memorial, Sydney; Bank Art Museum Moree; Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre and Tweed Regional Gallery.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by Robert Heather, Brad Maneras, Dr Andrew Yip, Christopher Allen and statements by each artist.
At the New England Regional Art Museum the exhibition will be extended with loans of artworks from the Australian War Memorial. These artworks will be by artists who served as soldiers or official war artists in The Great War who also have later work sin NERAM’s Howard Hinton Collection including George Coates, Fred Leist, H. Septimus Power, Arthur Streeton and Napier Waller. These loans have been proudly supported by the NSW Government.
- 10.30am Saturday 24 March 2018 Artists talks and tour of the exhibition
- New England Regional Art Museum (24 March – 3 June 2018)
- Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (10 August – 7 October 2018)
- Anzac Memorial, Sydney (22 October 2018 – 17 February 2019)
- Bank Art Museum Moree (5 March – 29 April 2019)
- Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre (11 May – 30 June 2019)
- Tweed Regional Gallery (21 November 2019 – 16 February 2020)
Further information: https://www.salientwesternfront.com/
Image above: Participating artists in France 2017, photograph by Robert Linnegar