In Flanders Fields: paintings on copper for the centenary of the Great War
6 November - 1 December 2018
Marking 100 years since the end of World War I, IAN MARR presents ‘In Flanders Fields’, paintings on copper from his time along the Western Front. In 2017 MARR travelled alongside twelve other Australian artists to the battlefields of Belgium and France to explore the Australian history and memories of the Great War, now steeped into the soils of the landscape.
Working near Flers, Peronne and Hamel on the Somme; Hill 60 near Ypres; close to Passchendaele and the Tyne Cot Cemetery; MARR immersed himself in the landscape, drawing on copper plates to develop into the paintings of the fields, cemeteries and villages that surround these sites. Of his time there MARR writes, “A century on, the Western Front battlefields exert a profound effect on visitors. The agricultural landscape is a prairie of corn, potatoes and canola, with few people and great machines trundling around, yet the stories and familial connections to the appalling events of the First World War are strong and sites evocative.”
Referencing the rich visual and lyrical history of War remembrance, the title of the exhibition, ‘In Flanders Fields’, is drawn John McCrae’s poem significant for the Ypres Salient and also the site from which the custom of remembering the War with red poppies was derived.
Reading writers in the past to understand the Great War for the present, MARR reached from Modern History with poems including “Dulce et Decorum Est” by English poet Wilfred Owen who drew inspiration from Roman poet Horace, and to Ancient History with a translation of Greek lyric poet Simonides of Ceos. MARR also cut letters into stone quoting these texts, which are currently exhibiting in Salient: Contemporary artists at the Western Front at the ANZAC Memorial, Sydney.
Imbued with history and memory of place, MARR’S paintings on copper ‘In Flander’s Fields’ create a space of reflection and remembrance of a place where past and present are blurred – forever marked by the devastation of the Great War.