Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sapper Moore-Jones project

Known as 'Sapper Moore-Jones', Horace Moore-Jones was a New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) artist who served at Gallipoli. 1915

Possibly Australasia's most famous Gallipoli artwork, Sapper Moore-Jones' image of a man and his donkey has become both a New Zealand and Australian institution. It is recalled every Anzac day in both countries. Is it Simpson the Australian stretcher bearer or Henderson the New Zealand Stretcher bearer depicted in the painting? Does it matter any more? The painting has become an icon in both countries, capturing the Anzac spirit of camaraderie forged in battle. Can you think of a painting more celebrated in both NZ and Australia? Or one that has inspired as many reproductions or sculptures? I can't.  Sapper Moore-Jones painted five original versions of this painting, using a photograph he had taken of the scene at Gallipoli as a reference. (You can see my interpretation in bronze of the same theme on the 'Scrapbook' page on this site)

'Sapper' Horace Moore-Jones 'Private Simpson, D.C.M., & his donkey at Anzac', Watercolour, 1918

'Sapper' Horace Moore-Jones 'The Sphinx', Watercolour, 1915
Ironically, Sapper Moore-Jones painted very few figurative Gallipoli works. He painted very detailed topographical landscapes like this water colour, looking across the Sphinx rock feature out toward Suvla Bay in the distance. His field drawings at Gallipoli were used as Artillery target references as they would clearly indicate enemy positions. His amazing collection of Gallipoli water colour landscapes were sadly not purchased by the NZ Government after the War.  

'Sapper' Horace Moore-Jones, NZEFArtist, Galipoli, 1915

Today, I'm finishing the last details on this little wax sculpture of Sapper Moore-Jones.  This is a small scale statuette for a proposed full size statue and it shows the artist surveying his line of sight as he sketches an exposed ridge at Anzac Cove.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Gallipoli art project begins

Sketching on Walkers Ridge, overlooking Suvla Bay, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
On my return from Turkey last week, and after adjusting back to New Zealand time, I started drawing many composition studies for the first of my 'Gallipoli Anniversary' series of paintings.

'Armistice,' the biggest of the series, at a proposed three metres wide, will depict the historic truce on 24th May 1915, where Anzac and Turkish soldiers laid down arms for one day in order to collect and bury more than 2000 dead soldiers lying in no mans land. Some of the dead had lay in the summer heat for five weeks, where they fell on the first day of the landing on the 25th April.

I have been up on the ridge line, and sketched between Quinns Post Cemetery and Johnstons Jolly Cemetery, a 150 metre section between many more kilometres of no mans land that snaked along the ridge in either direction between the forward Turkish and Anzac trenches. Some trench systems and tunnels are still clearly visible, making it easier to decipher the lay of the land and imagine what it may have looked like for the soldiers in 1915.  Defence House decided that armistice was the ideal theme for a large painting to gift the Turkish people on the 100th anniversary in 2015. The camaraderie in grief, shared by the Anzac and Turkish soldiers as they were tasked with the terrible job of burying the dead in shallow graves next to where they lay, is widely recalled in the memoirs of men who were there that day. 

Burying the dead Gallipoli, 1915

Barbed wire I found at the front trenches near Quinns Post

For one day the opposing soldiers could look in the eyes of the enemy, swap souvenirs, food and tobacco, share a pipe and size each other up. Most Anzacs drew the conclusion that these 'heathens' from a foreign land were no different from the war-weary, hungry, disease-ridden, homesick men they shared their own trenches with. In a glance, a 'Gidday or a 'Merhaba', or a simple swapping of bully beef for couple of tomatoes, a brief light of human kindness shone through in the dark, filthy and horrifying pit of human tragedy.
Bully beef, 1915
Turkish-Macedonian Tobacco company tin, 1915
It is widely reported amongst the Anzac's in their own words, that the general attitude toward 'Johnny Turk' changed from that day onward. The killing continued in earnest, of course but the mutual respect for the 'gentlemen in battle' continued for the Anzac's for the remainder of the failed campaign.

Video footage taken as we approached the site of Quinn's Post

This photo shows the terraces of Quinn's Post under construction. The ridge line above is the front line trench and the plateau on the top is no mans land where the Armistice took place. The roof on each terrace at Quinn's Post was designed to catch Turkish bombs

Turkish throwing bomb (early grenade)

Placing a poppy at Chunik Bair New Zealand memorial.

Stores on Anzac cove beach, 1915

Stores barges evacuate wounded from Anzac cove
Donkey's on Anzac cove beach, used to haul equipment and water up the narrow paths and evacuate wounded back to the beach
A covered trench, similar to the covered terraces at Quinn's Post.