An installation by Orange based artist Victor Gordon at the Orange Regional Gallery
Opening Friday the 24th April – 5th July 2015
This exhibition coincides with the 100 year Anzac Day Commemoration and is the culmination of eighteen months preparation. The Orange Regional Gallery is hosting a site-specific art installation intended, not as a static commemorative exhibition to be viewed passively, but as a simulated emotional and intellectual experience intended to provoke thought. Gallery 2 will be transformed to provide a powerful and perhaps confronting artistic response to the supreme sacrifice of soldier volunteers in WWI.
It will provide an historical overview of the military hierarchy and the human resources required to conduct the Great War. The statistics of all Australian volunteers who died as well as those of our community here in Orange and districts will be included.
A large scale 9 metre long panelled painting will take up one entire wall of Gallery 2. The painting sets ‘the stage’ by [re]presenting the industrial-scale magnitude of tombstone production to meet the demand of the War Graves Commission for an adequate and tasteful commemoration of the dead.
While of intense topical interest at this moment in time to the general viewer on a national scale, Gordon’s installation is directed towards engaging and addressing the local community of Orange, by symbolically bringing together and bringing home, the (approximately 120) volunteers from our district who died in WWI.
Attention will importantly be drawn to one individual, Private Ernest Lachlan Powter, who was the youngest volunteer from Orange to die. Being born on 9th march 1900, he was fifteen when he lied about his age to go to the war and was dead by the time he was sixteen!
Concurrently An image of Alec Campbell, who volunteered at age sixteen and survived to become the last Anzac to die, also features. Of note is his personal reflection on Anzac which evolved and developed after his war service as he matured.
The installation will additionally include reference to contemporary local and national opposition to the war. The shaming symbol of their non patriotic stance, the white feather, will form an integral aspect of the installation, which highlighted the divisive sentiment on the home front and peaked around the two failed conscription referenda debates which divided the nation. Orange was not excluded.
Gordon’s art will provide thoughtful insights into the tough choices young men faced; to volunteer and potentially die, be wounded or otherwise be permanently affected or, face being labelled a coward — which could mean becoming a social outcast, forever stigmatised.
By highlighting the devastating cost of Australia’s voluntary participation in the Great War in young Australian lives, Victor Gordon’s aesthetic response to the Anzac legacy will provide much food for thought.