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I respect the ANZAC story, and the men and women who died under such terrible circumstances. But also I acknowledge the suffering of people on the other side – those who were once our enemies. I appreciate the honouring of those fallen in battle, for a seemingly good cause. But in “Forever Young” I wanted to show the less glamorous side of war. In 2014, with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WW1, I acquired a nostalgic obsession for the 1914 period (like many others caught up in the media driven nostalgia) – even succumbing to buying some of the commemorative merchandise such as, a game of two-up; and an ANZAC teddy bear.

For a long time I have seen in my mind’s eye, the ANZACS (Australian & New Zealand Army Corp) of Gallipoli, as being old men. This was due to news footage of old diggers at ANZAC marches. But then it dawned on me that they were all young during the war. Basically, young lads. Younger than my own sons. I tried to put myself in their picture, and the idea of this painting began to emerge. I researched the topic online, and a photo of masses of stacked skulls appeared, taken soon after Gallipoli. I concocted the “Australia-head” digger idea some decades ago as a cartoon – and placed him in the landscape. With hindsight, it conjures (to me) a setting not unlike a Sydney Nolan (Ned Kelly) painting. Ned Kelly in a stark, barren Australian vista. Ironically, not unlike the Gallipoli setting. The painting’s title was inscribed in my head after seeing a promo for ABC TV’s drama “ANZAC Nurses” – in which they used the contemporary hit song “Forever Young” as the soundtrack. All the parts came together. They all died young, and will be forever young. Lest We Forget.

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“Forever Young” – featured for “Artist of the Month” at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG), December, 2014









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