Raymond Arnold: Memory / History

1 January - 14 December 1998

Much of Raymond Arnold’s Memory/History inspiration came from the artist’s walking tours of the battlefields of World War One, where his great-grandfather, William Hancock had fought in the AIF alongside thousands of other Australians between 1914 and 1918. During 1997 Arnold camped by historic sites, recorded material in his sketchbook, and visited war museums and cemeteries at Pozières, La Boiselle, Le Hamel and Péronne, and as he went, he reflected on his own life and those who had died: ‘ I felt my apparent state would strike any farmer or villager with the feeling that I was one of them returning to the battlefield – a ghost figure! This feeling became more accentuated as I literally walked into a major ceremony to inaugurate a new memorial to Australian soldiers near Le Hamel. I was an outsider amongst French villagers, politicians, clergy and young Australian soldiers. I had walked through a deserted valley, crossed an overgrown old French line to come across this throng…I was taken by the number and scale of the floral tributes lying amongst the assembled crowd. I made some drawings, took some photographs and these depicted wreath motifs became the basis of my new body of work.’