This beautiful book is a guided tour through the history of the Australian War Memorial and features a host of glorious photos illustrating the remarkable artworks that sit at the very heart of its collections. Many of Australia’s finest artists and photographers have worked as official war artists, and the important role they have played in documenting Australia’s involvement in conflicts from the 19th century onwards is front and centre here.
Frank Hurley remains one of the most influential and remarkable documentary photographers in Australian history. His adventurous spirit took him to Antarctica with Shackleton, Passchendaele with the 1st A.I.F., Palestine with the Australian Light Horse and Tobruk with the 2nd A.I.F., to name just a few of his more prominent engagements! This book brings together many of his most striking images from two world wars, and while his unflinching eye was not afraid to capture the horror of war, he was also keen to celebrate the comradeship of the Australian soldier in the midst of the maelstrom.
Benjamin Britten’s mighty War Requiem was first performed in 1962 as part of the consecration ceremonies for the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during a bombing raid in 1940. Built around the Latin Mass for the Dead, Britten incorporated a number of war poems by Wilfrid Owen into the setting, linking the requiem to the two great world conflicts of the 20th century through the words of a poet killed on the battlefield in 1918. It’s a breathtaking work, at once devastating and glorious, and its impact remains undiminished.
War and conflict have always been grist for the cinematic mill, and the Australian film industry has been busily representing the Australian soldier from its earliest years. The ANZAC legend continues to fascinate historians and artists of all persuasions, and this study (also available online) looks at how the representation of the Australian soldier has evolved over the years, transforming itself from a rather generic military type to the more characteristic “digger” figure we recognise today, at once loyal and brave as well as cynical and anti-authoritarian.
A photograph from our Picture Collection of a lovely sketch by one of Australia’s greatest war artists, Ivor Hele