HAUNTING: Stella Bowen (1893–1947) | Bomber Crew 1944 | oil on canvas | 103.8 x 80.8 cm | ART26265
HAUNTING: Stella Bowen (1893–1947) | Bomber Crew 1944 | oil on canvas | 103.8 x 80.8 cm | ART26265 Contributed

Artists capture realities of war showcased at art gallery

ROCKHAMPTON Art Gallery is offering a unique opportunity to experience the depth of the Australian War Memorial's art collection through hosting the exhibition Reality in Flames: modern Australian art from the Second World War.

The exhibition consists of 90 works of art drawn from the Australian War Memorial's art collection, which forms one of the most diverse and comprehensive accounts of Second World War Australian modern art.

Through paintings, drawings and sculpture, Reality in Flames explores the different ways Australian modern artists responded creatively to the Second World War, producing work that sought to comprehend cataclysmic events.

It also provides a visual history of the period, revealing the war as a transformative force that altered Australia and the world.

Artists have always played a crucial role in recording and interpreting the Australian experience of war, and this exhibition explores both the dangers soldiers faced abroad and the challenges war brought to the home front and to Australian society itself.

Rockhampton Art Gallery was particularly inspired to host this show, recognising the local connection to Stella Bowen's extraordinary painting, Bomber Crew.

This painting includes the portrait of Squadron Leader Eric Jarman, who was from Yeppoon.

Head along

Reality in Flames is on display at the Rockhampton Art Gallery, Victoria Pde, until November 30.

On April 27, 1944, Bowen began a series of pencil sketches of the bomber crew and that night their operation took them over Friedrichshafen in Germany.

By morning, Bowen's subjects were reported missing and it was later confirmed none of the crew survived. Bowen completed Bomber Crew, a painting that aches of lost youth, based on those drawings.

The exhibition also features works developed through the official war art scheme, alongside pieces by artists who struggled to balance the creation of their art with their war-related labour or military service.

Several works were created by refugees, prisoners of war and civilians in internee or concentration camps.

These artists were compelled to explore the events they saw around them, focusing on new foreign and cultural encounters; the introduction of advanced technology to warfare; changing gender roles; the home front, leisure and recreation; and, crucially, the tremendous hardship, destruction and loss wrought by the conflict.



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