Newcastle artist Deirdre Bean has won the 2022 Gallipoli Art Prize ($20 000 acquisitive prize auspiced by the Gallipoli Memorial Club) with her painting, Along the ride to Damascus, featuring a sword used by Australian Light Horse battalions in WWI.
Bean’s winning work is intricately rendered in oil paint on canvas using ultra-fine brushes. The sword, scabbard and leather-bound ‘swagger stick’ featured in the painting belong to a private collector who loaned the precious items to Deirdre Bean so she could draw and then paint them from life.
“It has been my art practice in recent years to rediscover items such as these: precious, meaningful items that are locked away and in danger of being forgotten,” said Deirdre Bean. “My ambition is to ‘relove’ them by bringing them briefly into the light and, with careful handling, reimagine them in paint on canvas.”
“This sword now has a new alternative life. The stories it evokes are retold, conversations are had, and information shared. We remember, lest we forget,” said Bean.
Deirdre Bean is a revered botanical artist with a PhD in Natural History Illustration, focusing on mangrove species. Her works are included in the public collections The Royal Botanical Gardens in London and Sydney as well as Parliament House in Canberra.
Her awards include one Gold and two Silver-Gilt Medals from the Royal Horticultural Society, London and her work, Major Smith’s Petrichor was Highly Commended in the 2020 Gallipoli Art Prize.
Bean’s first artist trip to Gallipoli was in 2013 which prompted her to begin painting weaponry and other battlefield relics. In 2017 she was one of twelve artists included in an art expedition to the WWI battlefields in France and Belgium, to explore Australian history and memories of the Great War.
The judges highly commended Geoff Harvey for his painting Lest We Forget made up of four panels depicting a war memorial in different seasons of the year.
“The seasons come and the seasons go, as the years pass but these statues continue to hold their posts steadfast and reliable as silent sentinels of remembrance in an ever-changing landscape… Lest We Forget,” said Geoff Harvey – who has won the Gallipoli Art Prize twice, first in 2012 with Trench Interment and again in 2021 with Forgotten Heroes.
The Gallipoli Art Prize invites artists to respond to the broad themes of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship as expressed in the Gallipoli Club’s creed.
“We believe that within the community there exists an obligation for all to preserve the special qualities of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship which were personified by the heroes of the Gallipoli Campaign and bequeathed to all humanity as a foundation for perpetual peace and universal freedom.”
Judging for this year’s Prize was conducted by Jane Watters, Barry Pearce, John Robertson and Elizabeth Fortescue. Previous winners of the Gallipoli Art Prize include renowned artists Euan Macleod (2009), Idris Murphy (2014) and Jiawei Shen (2016).
Works from the 2022 Gallipoli Art Prize will be on exhibition at The Cleland Bond Store, 33 Playfair Street, The Rocks (Sydney) until 8 May 2022. For more information, and to view works online, visit: www.gallipoliartprize.org.au for details.
Image: Deirdre Bean, Along the ride to Damascus, Oil on canvas, 58 x 120cm – courtesy of the Artist and the Gallipoli Art Prize