A Very Sad Affair
70 year commemoration of WWII, Monte Cassino
Artists:Robin Anaru Anderson, Beverley Cox, Lindsay Antrobus Evans, Wally Hicks, Marg Morrow, Rachel Miller
OPENS 11am Saturday 3 May
Exhibition runs until 4th June 2014
Village Arts gallery reveals new works by artists Beverley Cox, Rachel Miller, Marg Morrow, Lindsay Antrobus Evans, Wally Hicks, and Robin Anaru Anderson; assembled as a commemorative response to the 1944 battle of Monte Cassino.
During WWII, following Italy’s invasion on 3 September 1943 and capitulation on 8th September, German occupation forces took up defensive positions across central Italy known as the Gustav Line in which Monte Cassino monastery, Cassino township and the surrounding area were an important strategic section. Cassino is ‘the rocky hill’ 130kms South East of Rome, a site of strategic importance that has been sacked a number of times since 581.
After an introduction to the work and some time spent in the gallery I can assume a better understanding of what was the battle of Monte Cassino, so too an appreciation for the opportunity to share in something as intimate as the wartime journal entries of Cox’s father, of which Cox’s mixed media paintings are based and the idea for the exhibition conceived. I consider every stroke of her brush and pen to be one step in a journey with her father, as she reframes his text into her own visual interpretation.
Fine collage drawings by Miller reflect factual accounts of the battle, and serve as tribute to the casualties of war. Her enchanting pictures on black paper suggest a story with a sinister undertone.
Morrow’s composition of 123 photographic images on canvas tiles; with each applique representing one of 123 grim days of battle are maimed with stitches, burns, tears and blackouts; a memento mori.
Evans bloody accounts; the incomprehensible numbers; the wounds of ordinance written in bandage and chalk paint on canvas, white and devoid of life. Shells, relics and On Record: ‘a full file box of despondency’ remain.
Hicks admits being riddled with both respect and revulsion, commemoration and celebration in his work My Trip. Aptly modelled on the title of Cox’s father’s diary and inspired partly by an entry in it, this is a mini world built from rubble; his intricate makings capture a scene of obliteration and futility, on grounds of crucifixion.
The debris in this exhibition are the ceramic and wood sculptures by potter Anderson, a series of decorative and white platters, grenades and larger than life artillery shells with stunning crystalline glazes that replicate patina on brass. Anderson’s works demonstrate the successful combustion of technical skill and risk taking required to create the accuracy of form and aesthetic he has achieved here.
A Very Sad Affair on the 70th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino runs until the 4th June. A must see exhibition by established Hokianga artists. Village Arts is open 7 days, 10am-3pm and entry is free.
Review by Eva Walker