Army Art Aids Esther

– by David Charlesworth

This week the Army Art Foundation awarded funds raised through its exhibition last month to its charities.

On September 14 the Foundation awarded the Esther Foundation, the primary beneficiary, a cheque for $20,000. The remaining balance of $4,000 was spread between a number of other charities.

From August 15-17, Leeuwin Army Base in Fremantle saw an army of a different kind as volunteers swept in for the 2014 Army Art exhibition.

Each year the base is host to the Army Art Exhibition which raises funds for a new charity each year and this year is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. It was officially opened on the Friday by seven-time World Women’s Marathon Swimming Champion and Esther Foundation Patron Shelley Taylor Smith. First held at the Campbell Army Barracks in Swanbourne in 1974, the exhibition was moved to the Leeuwin Base in 2006.

Army Art Committee presenting the cheque to Esther representative Annette Russell and two girls from the Foundation.
Army Art Committee presenting the cheque to Esther representative Annette Russell and two girls from the Foundation.

This year’s primary beneficiary, Esther Foundation, gives counselling and mentoring to young women in ten houses across the state. The Foundation provides for 45 women dealing with a range of issues from abuse and mental health to depression and teen pregnancy. The program was founded by Patricia Lavater in 2006 and named for the crisis house she ran as part of the Living Hope program.

Army Art has raised money for a number of WA charities over its 40 years, raising thousands of the dollars.

“In our 40 year history we’ve given over $750,000 to many many organisations,” Army Art Committee Chairwoman Chris McCalman.

“We’ve done odd things; we sponsored a meerkat at the zoo for 12 months, we’ve given to royal flying doctor, cancer research, burns unit, and a myriad of different organisations.”

“We do try and keep to organisations that don’t get a lot of government funding but that’s a little bit difficult now with so many places getting grants of one sort or another.”

A major focus of the exhibition is on Western Australia, which is maintained throughout many aspects of the event.

“It’s all West Australian art, that’s one of our criteria, they must be a West Australian,” Ms McCalman said.

“We very much focus on Western Australia. We have WA wine on opening night and we source all out nibbles and everything from WA companies.”

More money went to the charity thanks to the number of volunteers, which kept running costs low, Ms McCalman said.

“It’s entirely run by volunteers, we have a committee of 14 members, and on the opening night and during the set-up we would probably have 80 volunteers who offered their services to us,” she said.

The Army Art exhibition showed a wide variety of works in a wide variety of medium, with paintings, sculpture, glasswork, ceramics and everything in between. One notable appearance in the exhibition 6 paintings by well-known WA artist Leon Pericles, who is known for his eclectic collage style.

Stephanie Boyle was the exhibition’s artist-in-residence and painted with watercolours at the exhibition for visitors to observe, while also having a number of pieces in the show.


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