ArtHigh is a new annual exhibition which will feature works by High School students in Year 7 to 10 at the Queen Victoria Art Gallery. The students will be asked to visit the Art Gallery and look at three objects which have been selected from our history, natural sciences and visual art collections.
The objects all have some relation to war, conflict, and outrage. The people behind these objects were witness to war, punishment, and survival. Our theme this year is the idea of peace, and solutions and pathways for change. Through the study of history we discover the past, we bear witness to the present and through our actions we form our future. Do the experiences of history help us in creating and learning peace?
The students will then be asked to create some artwork. For example 2d, sculpture, moving image, music, dance, drama, poetry or creative writing, and it may be selected to be exhibited at the Art Gallery from 2 July to 25 September.
Contemporary Australian artist George Gittoes will be in Launceston during the 2nd week of Term 2 to provide special presentations to schools about artist as witness of war. For more information about the artist please visit: www.gittoes.com
About the Objects
The Truth Behind the Tooth?
This object, according to its old handwritten label, is the ‘tooth of a lion used to devour early Christian Martyrs’. It was donated to the Museum in the 1940s and supposedly came from a cage of teeth in a catacomb under the Church of St Clement in Rome. This church is close to the famous Colosseum where Romans executed Christians and others who broke Roman laws, by feeding them to lions and other wild animals.
St Clement is one of the earliest Christian churches in Rome. It contains the remains of an early Christian martyr, St Ignatius, who was sentenced by the Roman Emperor of the time to be eaten by lions in the Colosseum. After his death the Christian church made Ignatius a saint because he chose to die this way rather than give up his religious beliefs. Apparently he was willing to be a martyr and his last words were said to be “I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread.”
Could this tooth really be from a lion that ate an early Christian martyr?
Witness to War
This Kodak Retinette folding 35mm camera was owned by Daniel Archer Green of Sheffield, Tasmania. He served in the Second World War and took photographs with this camera in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. He was a gun layer, responsible for aiming artillery pieces, a member of a gun crew of six gunners. His service number, TX3599, is printed on the back of the camera case. Green fought at El Alamein, one of the main turning points of the war, and his photographs show the aftermath of these battles.
Daniel Green did not take these photographs during battle – he was too busy working in his gun crew. His pictures show other aspects of an Australian soldier’s experience – being a visitor to foreign lands, everyday life in the Army, the operation of his gun, captured enemy equipment, and the celebration of Armistice Day.
What did Daniel Green witness through the viewfinder of this camera?
Witness to Survival
This work of art is by Launceston-born artist Geoff Tyson. He was a prisoner of war (POW) during the Second World War In 1945 he was sent to Japan to work in a coal mine at Omine, close to Nagasaki, six weeks before an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. This painting is documentary in nature. It depicts the days immediately after the bomb — the second to be dropped on Japan. The war had ended, the Japanese guards had fled, and the POWs were left alone and isolated with no food or water.
It illustrates the American parachute drops of survival rations for the abandoned POWs. They then had to wait a month for the train line to Nagasaki to be rebuilt in order for them to be shipped home. During this time, Geoff Tyson was able to continue making works of art. He purchased watercolours and paper from the local villagers.
Could you imagine painting and drawing whilst being subjected to the extreme exhaustion, malnutrition and subjugation of the POW camps? How would you keep your spirits up?