100 Years Ago: Devotion
7 April – 25 April 2015
Opening Saturday 11 April, 3 – 5 pm
Gallipoli is a landmark of historical refuge for Australians through memorials and ritualised remembrance.100 Years Ago: Devotion showcases RACHEL FAIRFAX’s response to the ANZAC centenary of the landing at Gallipoli. Through a selection of paintings and ceramics FAIRFAX has delved into these histories, with particular focus on the women who served in the Australian Army Nursing Services and the role of animals in World War I.
A painting expedition to Gallipoli in 2013 marked a significant course of artistic development for RACHEL FAIRFAX. Her personal encounter with this site sparked a fervent interest in both national and personal connections to the World Wars. FAIRFAX describes travelling through and painting the Gallipoli Peninsula as powerful, haunting and reverential. Gallipoli and Beyond, exhibited at Stella Downer Fine Art in September 2013, explored her initial engagements with Gallipoli as a place of remembrance. FAIRFAX’s enquiry into World War history has developed through researching the impact of the World Wars on her own family histories, and how their lives were profoundly affected by their war service. These experiences have spring-boarded FAIRFAX’s continued interest and exploration of the histories, imagery and symbolism of the ANZACs.
FAIRFAX’s works combine cultural iconography and images with the personal realities of ANZAC history for the nurses. Her hand built ceramics reference the basic jugs and humble vessels used by nurses in their care of wounded soldiers. FAIRFAX’s imagery is derived from an amalgamation of different references including photographs, war records, propaganda posters, letters and diaries of people who served during the war. Dogs and birds have been a recurring theme through out much of FAIRFAX’s painting practice. Here, war dogs and pigeons have been recaptured with reference to historical documents. This is a departure from her typical painting practice of drawing from life and creating paintings from those direct drawings. Nevertheless these works capture FAIRFAX’s ability to imbue the subjects of her art with liveliness and a sense of reverence that is often amiss in historical records.
The exhibition is dedicated by RACHEL FAIRFAX to her 94 year old Nan, who was the first to tell her stories of the wars. Lest we Forget.