The Earth and Sky of Gallipoli

– by Stephanie Lyon

Gallipoli Earth and Sky is a unique exhibition dedicated to the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Gallipoli whom still rest in unknown graves, and Paul Uhlmann’s father Ian Uhlmann, a Vietnam War veteran. Local artists Lev Vykopal and Paul Uhlmann bring audiences an original perspective on Gallipoli; focusing on the common experiences shared by every soldier on the battlefield regardless of their rank and the army of their allegiance.

Lev Vykopal explores the few square kilometres our ANZAC war heroes marched on throughout the battle of Gallipoli. On average two soldiers were killed or wounded per square metre of earth at ANZAC; bringing home just how small Gallipoli is compared to the legend that was born here 100 years ago. Vykopal’s sixteen cold cast bronze photogrammetrical prints of ground coverings at key locations surrounding Gallipoli bring history and legend to life; giving visitors a taste of the textured landscape. Of particular note is the single pine cone resting on a bed of pine needles in ‘Lone Pine’, the broken rum jar neck at ‘Lala Baba’ which bears similarities to the ancient Greek and Roman artefacts the soldiers uncovered in the process of digging the trenches, and the ancient hieroglyphics in ‘Troy I’ the site of a battle centuries earlier.

Paul Uhlmann takes inspiration from the night sky that watched over the soldiers and the horrific battle unfolding on the shores of Gallipoli. The ANZAC’s , the Turkish soldiers, the mortally wounded, the extremely ill, the nurses on the hospital ships, and the journalists, all gazed upon the same blanket of stars throughout the ordeal. The night sky is a portal of knowledge and a place for the mind to escape too; demonstrated through Uhlmann’s nine oil paintings; created with the help of information from Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra to pinpoint the positions of the constellations at significant moments throughout the Gallipoli campaign.

Uhlmann’s paintings take us on the journey of the ANZAC’s utilising his colour palette to symbolise the devastating impact of war. The first paintings utilise a bright colour palette set against a night sky as the soldiers depart Albany excited about the prospect of adventure; having not yet imagined the horrors which await them. Whilst in contrast the night 1000 men lost their lives as the ANZAC’s advanced 1000 yards utilises a darker colour palette of mostly blue and dark grey giving it a solemn feel.

Gaze up at the night sky and share in the footsteps of the first ANZAC’s with this rare opportunity to gain insight into the birth of an Australian legend, our rich history, and our connection to Gallipoli.

ADDRESS: Fremantle Arts Centre, 1 Finnerty Street, Fremantle

OPENING TIME: 10am – 5pm, Until May 24

Photo Credit: Fremantle Arts Centre

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