Sunday, 24 May 2015

Mad Through The Darkness

'Mad Through The Darkness' is a display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales of artworks by nine Australian artists that are either of or about the Great War. The artists range from official war-artists, through serving soldiers, to men who visited the battlefields after the war or were inspired by the experiences of others. It consists of paintings, prints and sketches of a variety of sizes and in a range of media. We visited this exhibition today, and I thought I'd showcase just a few of the pictures.

'The Enemy In Sight' from 1916 is by Septimus Power who was acclaimed for his wartime depictions of horses in action. He served as a war artist on the Western Front, but was later commissioned to paint a series of works depicting the campaigns of the Light Horse in the Middle East.

Here's a closeup of one of the troopers.

And here's my wife and daughter posing in front of it. They waited very patiently whilst I took my photos.

We all liked 'The Pigeon Loft' (1917) by Fred Leist, both because of the execution and because of the subject. The picture shows a courier about to depart from a mobile messenger pigeon loft behind the lines, with a basket of pigeons for the front line.

Here's a closeup of the motorcyclist.

For terrain buffs, here's 'The Road To Jericho', painted by George W. Lambert in 1918.

And as a contrast this is 'Villers-Brettoneux' by Arthur Streeton, painted after the key battle of 1918. This painting is due to be restored to mark the centenary of the battle.

The background detail is simple but effective. Here's some stretcher-bearers.

And in the distance, the village itself. I loved the colours and texture of this painting.

This striking portrait is 'The Smiling Sister (Miss Helen Lawson)' painted in 1915 by George W. Lambert (who did the Jericho picture above). Lambert has enjoyed some success as a portrait painter, especially of women, in London before the War.

Here's Miss Lawson's smile.

Finally a more modern work - 'The Galaxy' by Sidney Nolan (1956-57), which was inspired by a visit to the Dardanelles, scene of the Gallipoli landings. Part of a series it depicts shadowy figures of dead soldiers projecting into the future.

The exhibition continues until 11th October 2015.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Nice artwork on display except that last piece of "modern art", but then I'm an old fart.

    1. I'm an old fart as well, but I have found myself growing more tolerant of 'modern art' as I get older and also as I spend more time visiting galleries and exhibitions. It's true that I still find some of the explanations of work to be a load of pretentious tosh, but that doesn't always prevent me from enjoying the piece. I admit that I didn't feel that 'The Galaxy' sat that well with the rest of the pieces in the display, but I like it as a piece of art. Possibly it's one best seen 'in the flesh' as it were, because it is very striking. Sidney Nolan is an iconic Australian artist, so the gallery has a lot of his work.


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