Richard Lewer1970 - Over 40,000 Anzaacs left our shores, a third never returned 2017
- oil on epoxy-coated steel
Richard Lewer depicts the departure of World War One troop ships from King George Sound, Albany in Western Australia, on route to Egypt in 1914.
Painted directly with thick, gritty oils across an expanse of four large steel plates, the work has both a physical and conceptual intensity that captures the epic scale of the military undertaking and the inherent human drama of a singular moment in Australian, and indeed, Western Australian history.
Lewer came to this particular ANZAC subject by way of a six month residency he undertook in Albany in 2015. He says this about the genesis of the work: 'I spent a lot of time in the collections of the local historical society, looking at images and reading stories of the service men and women, I was drawn to the photographs of newlyweds, of proud families fare-welling their sons, and the patriotic young underage Australians spoiling for adventure. I couldn't help but think about their future on the battlefields, time in the trenches, bonds of mateship yet to be formed, shrapnel injuries to be sustained, psychological damage, death.
The history of the making of the work is in the margins of the image, everything gets wiped off and accumulates on the edges, the painting themselves were physically demanding, I sweated when I painted them...'. Richard Lewer, 2017
© Richard Lewer