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Les Enfants Dans Une Terre Ancienne
(Children in an ancient land)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les enfants dans une terre ancienne
Graphite on Arches paper
297mm x 420mm
1997
Collection of the artist


 

I had always wanted to create a picture honouring the men of the Australian Light Horse and when I read the book "The Desert Column" by Ion Idress, there was a passage in it which pricked the sides of my intent.

Idress was a trooper in the Light Horse and kept an illegal diary from which he wrote his book. The passage in question relates his eerie experience of hallucinating whilst on sentry duty. So moved was I by this passage that I immediately drew this picture of a trooper of the Light Horse with the feint image of a French Crusader in the background. The passage is reproduced below:

‘December 17th, 1917 – Stand To… Sun Rising. On outpost again: thank heaven that night is over. It was so queer, though I must write of last night while it is still fresh in my memory…

I was sentry, staring out there, fighting to keep my mind occupied and awake and alert. I don’t know why, but I began thinking of all the ancient armies, wondering even what outpost squadrons have camped in this very oasis. I started musing about those old Phoenicians, and the Babylonians,, and the kings of Persia and the Syrian cohorts. Of the terrible ‘skin ‘em alive’ horsemen, of the disciplined Roman legions, the Saracens and the Crusaders and Arab hordes. I wondered if the Moslems and the Christians and the Mohommedans and Jews and idolaters and all the others mix together now! And I wondered if the phantom soldiers watch over our battles and if they gather in curious groups around the dying Anzacs. And I could see quite plainly the spirits of the Anzacs arising and staring at the weird soldiers gazing so silently back. And I could have sworn I heard, like a clear whisper, the long-drawn gasp of an Anzac: “Who-th’-hell-are-you?”


I wondered if the phantom soldiers understood those Anzac swear words: I was sure they listened attentively to their tales of repulse and victory. I was positive of the attention on their faces and the cocksureness of the Anzacs as they explained the mechanism of the machine-gun, and artillery and flying machines.

And queerest of all, I seemed to hear the Aussies boasting of gum trees, and the swag and of old Australia!”

 

 

 

 

 


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Independent Productions and Aviation Services is the website of Conway Bown, Australian Army Official War Artist and Aviation Consultant. Services include portrait painting and other portraiture, aviation services such as CRM - Crew Resource Management - and Helicopter Underwater Escape Training - HUET - which may include Emergency Breathing Systems - EBS - training using Helicopter Aircrew Breathing Devices - HABD - or Helicopter Emergency Egress Device - HEEDs.

During 2006, Conway Bown deployed to the Middle East as the Australian Army's Official War Artist, what the US Armed Forces call Combat Artist. This website features the artwork created during this project as part of the Australian Army's Official Art Scheme.

For more information on War Art, Combat Artists, Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), Emergency Breathing Systems (EBS) or Crew Resource Management (CRM), please visit the relevant webpages:

HUET - RHO Aviation

CRM - RHO Aviation

EBS - RHO Aviation

Official War Artist - IPAS.