Sappers & Shrapnel

Inspired by the little-known and undervalued art form known as trench art, Sappers & Shrapnel, includes works from the collection of theAustralian War Memorial including items made by Tasmanian Sapper Stanley K. Pearl alongside the compelling work of contemporary artistsTony Albert, Olga Cironis, Nicholas Folland, Brett Graham, Fiona Hall, Richard Lewer, Alasdair McLuckie, Baden Pailthorpe, Ben Quilty, SeraWaters and Rene Wanuny Kulitja, Judy Ukampari Trigger, Erica Ikungka Shorty, Lucille Armstrong, Mary Katajuku Pan, Janet Inyika, NiningkaLewis and Freda Teamay from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
Whether intended as trophies of war, souvenirs for those at home, or talismans for the battle ahead, trench art, made from the waste ofwarfare – from shells, shell cases, shrapnel, badges, buttons and appropriated enemy artillery – is an expression of our need to make art.
Curator, Lisa Slade says ‘Trench art provides evidence of art’s status – not as a luxury or commodity – but as essential for survival. It remindsus of art’s inalienable power. And we need such a reminder right now.’
The trench art objects made by Australian Sapper, Stanley K. Pearl, provide some of the most illuminating biographies of the First World Warand a window into the industry and ingenuity of these everyday artisans. Pearl’s oeuvre signals a resilience, resourcefulness and aninventiveness, not unlike the contemporary artists that he will be exhibited alongside.
Slade explains ‘As awkward museum objects – as curios and souvenirs – trench art bedevils traditional categories, resonating with meaningsthat are personal, patriotic, political and often talismanic. Contemporary art relishes the awkward and the curious, with the best of it
springing from the fissures of life where artists as modern-day sappers can transform the shrapnel of the everyday.’
Sappers & Shrapnel: Contemporary art and the art of the trenchesruns from Friday 11 November 2016 to Sunday 29 January 2017 at the ArtGallery of South Australia. Admission is free.
Image copyrite: Sapper Stanley Keith Pearl, 5 Field Company Engineers, AIF, Australia,1893–1986 Alarm clock 1918 Flanders West-Vlaanderen, Ypres, Belgium
Brass, copper, steel Australian War Memorial, Canberra, RELAWM14155
Image and content supplied courtesy Art Gallery of South Australia
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