Follow the Flag: Australian Artists and War 1914 – 45

NGV_Frank HurleyOver 150 works of art, created by Australian artists in response to the First and Second World Wars have been brought together to mark the centenary of Gallipoli in the exhibition Follow the Flag: Australian Artists at War 1914 – 45 at The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria from ANZAC Day.

The works by many of Australia’s most well-known artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Streeton and Albert Tucker responded to the human story behind war and includes images and objects of the recruitment drives, departures, battlefields, prisoners and interns, as well as detailed imagery of the daily lives of the servicemen and telling images of those who remained at home.

“The bravery, resourcefulness, loyalty and larrikin spirit that are so fundamental to the typical Australian identity might have had their origins in stories of bush life, but they were cemented by the First and Second World Wars,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “One hundred years on, in the centenary year of the Gallipoli beach landing, art is still reflecting on these significant moments in Australian history.”

Follow the Flag will feature works by some of Australia’s most well-known artists, such as Arthur Streeton, Russell Drysdale, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, Frank Hurley and Max Dupain, shown alongside works by soldier artists and unknown makers. Ranging from recruitment posters, to portraiture, to medical sketches, the exhibition will comprise a diverse range of works, including paintings, works on paper, photographs, sculpture, and vernacular art.

Highlights from the exhibition include Kristin Headlam’s Soldier boy 2002, depicting the cherub-faced Alec The Kid Campbell, one the many youths on the battlefields; George Lambert’s A sergeant of the Light Horse 1920, which was recognised as an image that captured the spirit and character of the Australian soldier.

Also included is Grace Cossington Smith’s 1915 painting, The sock knitter which has come to symbolise Australian women’s contribution to the war effort, which included knitting more than 1.3 million pairs of socks; and priceless ‘trench art’ displays, including jewellery and brooches fashioned on the front from shrapnel and plane debris.

The works have been gathered from NGV’s permanent collection, as well as private collections and public institutions from around Australia, including the Australian War Memorial.

Follow the Flag: Australian Artists and War 1914 – 45
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 24 April – 16 August 2015
Free entry

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Image: Frank Hurley, No title (Supporting troops of the 1st Australian Division walking on a duckboard track) (1917)gelatin silver photograph, 14.0 x 19.0 cm (image and sheet). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented through the NGV Foundation by Janine Hinderaker, Member 2003. (2003.371)