I was pleasantly surprised to find an Arthur Streeton exhibition focusing on the First World War:
Bringing together key works from collections around Australia and overseas, an important survey exhibition of Arthur Streeton’s war art will open at the NGA in December. Streeton’s contribution to the Australian war effort was significant. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps at the Third London General Hospital in Wandsworth from 1915 to 1917 before leaving for the Western Front as an official war artist in May 1918.
His wartime output includes images of war machinery stranded in the landscape and scenes of operations headquarters, dressing stations and field hospitals. Streeton visited regions in France where the Australian army had been successful against the enemy, including Poulainville, Péronne and Mont St Quentin, overlooking the Somme. The NGA has recently acquired a deftly painted watercolour of this strategically significant area, presented as a gift to Sir John Monash, one of the war’s outstanding commanders.
I have read poems and diaries, as well as listened to Dan Carlin’s five part series, Blueprint for Armageddon, the thing that stood out with Streeton’s paintings was the stories that they told. We are given such a visual impact of conflicts like Syria. However, back then this was left to artists.
Interestingly, the Australia War Memorial has also improved on its depiction of war, creating models.