THE POST WAR PROJECT
The Post War Project is an evolving body of creative works by artist Katy Mutton responding to her research into the Australian Soldier Settlement scheme (post WWI). The project commenced in 2014 in line with the beginning of the ANZAC centenary commemorations - the project was borne of a desire to find out more about the survivors of war and the impact this conflict has had on Australian communities. The project research has focused mainly on the community of Red Cliffs in Victoria. On this website you can find information on some of this research and artworks as they have evolved.
Outcomes so far have included large scale ink drawings and paintings inspired by regional mapping, utilising coding techniques to represent data gained from the research. The research has also been explored through installation works created from a variety of materials including Hardtack biscuits, found timbers, papers and clay. The project has received generous curatorial support from cultural institutions such as the National Library of Australia and The Australian War Memorial, and has grown substantially since its inception. Some of the public outcomes from the research have been:
- 2018 The Picket Sentinels Katy Mutton, Solo Exhibition at Mildura Regional Gallery VIC
with spoken word performance by CJ Bowerbird. Dates: 3 November to 16 December
- 2016 Post-War: Go On the Land! Katy Mutton, Solo Exhibition / The Art Vault, Mildura VIC
- 2015 Post-War: Thousand Mile Stare Katy Mutton, Solo Exhibition / ANCA Gallery, Canberra ACT with spoken word performance Keeping our heads down by CJ Bowerbird.
THE SOLDIER SETTLEMENT SCHEME
In Australia returning soldiers who had been honourably discharged from the Australian Imperial Force could apply to be allocated a block of land through the land lease scheme. Soldier settlers could apply for monetary advances to buy farming equipment, stock or other necessary items to establish their land. Some men and their families were able to successfully develop their blocks and make them productive, many others struggled with significant challenges. The majority of blocks allocated to returned soldier settlers were located in remote regional areas - far from the major cities. Some were much too small to make a living from and others were unproductive with poor soil quality or limited access to water. Many families started out without a home and lived in tents or constructed simple shack dwellings. Some training programs were established, however many of the men signing up had no farming experience and while they were determined to build a life on the land were sometimes ill-prepared to understand the challenges that would face them. Many families struggled to see any return from their block and with their repayments. In the 1920s severe drought hit Australia and many settlers ended in deep debt to the government. More than half of Australian settlers had left their land by 1938.