When I started this piece I accessed the Australian War Memorial website, searching through hundreds of the photographs found there. One in particular caught my attention and it became the starting point of this work.
Grave markers of 484 Sergeant (Sgt) Louis Shannon Brook MM, of Pimpino, Victoria, and 3371 Trooper (Tpr) Clarence William Radburn, of Neville, NSW, both of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment
Source: Courtesy of Australian War Memorial, Campbell, ACT.
I began digitally painting the horse and the grave, because of the emotional impact the above photograph had on me. Then I thought of all the other animals used in the war and believed they needed to be remembered too. Dogs used for searching out the wounded on battlefields, donkeys and camels used to transport the wounded to the hospital tents. Dogs to lay telegraph wire, warn of enemy attacks, carry messages, pull tea carts, or just to provide companionship. Pigeons, I thought only carried messages, but no, they were also used to carry a camera to take aerial photographs. Horses and camels to move troops, carry packs, move heavy artillery. The list was astounding.
Originally the finished work comprised only of the horse, donkey, dog and pigeon by the grave, but it looked wrong. It wasn’t telling a story.
I thought I’d finally finished after including the images, but it felt unbalanced, although I couldn’t fathom it at the time. It was only when I thought to paint a likeness of the statue designed by Alan Somerville, for the ANZAC bridge monument that I was able to bring balance back into the work.
Images courtesy of Australian War Memorial, Campbell, ACT.
Horse with heavy artillery (AWM E00668)
Light Horseman on fully equipped camel (AWM B02465)
Watering horses (AWM B01507)
First aid wagons (AWM P00339.010)
Images courtesy of Daily Mail Australia:
Dog in gas mask, 25 January 2013, I know what you need… air of the dog!
Dog laying telegraph wire, 9 May 2017, Animals on the front line.
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