‘Embedded (The Diggers’ Darling)’
acrylic and oil on linen
100cm x 80cm
Winner of the Heritage Art Prize Gympie Regional Gallery, in response to the theme ‘Conflict and Compassion’.
‘Embedded (The Digger’s Darling)’ speaks of the bonds between human beings. Bonds which give meaning to life and which are many times, forever lost as a result of war. My work focuses on the sinking of the hospital ship, The Centaur, off the coast of Queensland in 1943. Its stern and cargo later washed up on Bribie Island, including brand new Owen guns. The dimensions of the Owen gun depicted were taken from one of these guns. It was never used in warfare. The Centaur was vulnerable because she was low in the water due to arms carried on board. This contributed to the ballast appearing to have less freeboard, which led a Japanese submarine to sink it believing it to be a vessel of warfare.
There were ten Australian nurses on board The Centaur, only one of whom survived.
My painting is in homage to the unseen work of women in wartime and how they managed the domestic front. Working in factories; the notes of encouragement they wrote to the soldiers whilst on the production line which they slipped into the cleaning compartment of machine guns. The countless hours dedicated to knitting clothing for the troops…the memories and the loss.
There are many untold stories in war; men who returned to their wives and sweethearts irreparably changed. How do we cope with traumatic events? If we are to own them they must become integrated under our very skin. These stories have become part of us all; they are embedded in our collective conscious. The effects of war are felt well into future generations.
Delicate thread juxtaposed with gun metal, the fragility of people’s lives and relationships. Lest we forget.