We've had some wonderful coverage of the post war project and POST-WAR Thousand Mile Stare exhibition lately. On Anzac Day The Canberra Times ran a feature written by ANCA's critic-in-residence' Jess Oliver New Battleground for Returned Soldiers after WWI. If you're in Canberra and can make it along to the exhibition it runs until 10 May 2015 at ANCA Gallery - 1 Rosevear Avenue, Dickson ACT. Open Wed-Sun 12-5pm. To see images from the opening visit Life in Canberra, Andrew Sikorski took some wonderful snaps of the event. I sat at ANCA this weekend and met some lovely people coming through, among them I spoke with a woman who had grown up in Red Cliffs, and met the mother of a veteran who had served in Iraq and struggled with depression. It's been really wonderful to meet people who engage with the work in different ways and it's especially rewarding to discuss the research and process of making with them and listen to their perspectives on the content.
With kind permission from CJ Bowerbird I'm delighted to share with you his poem Keeping Our Heads Down which he performed so movingly at the opening of POST-WAR: Thousand Mile Stare just a few nights ago.
Keeping Our Heads Down by CJ Bowerbird
The sun peeks over the parapet. Yellow-green shreds of fog crease heavy the
pigeon chest of the land. A muted cough from a bird disturbed by the metal
shufflings of men with cold feet rooting into the soil.
You never quite shake off all the dirt. We
carry it home, entrenched in our
palms, under our nails, sanding our hair. With our
hands moulded to rifle stocks or
spades, we have no choice but to
When I landed in this plot, I
folded to a sprinter’s crouch,
sieved the soil through the
ploughshare-bayonets of my hand,
sifting time in the earth,
weighing the interim between
signing up and passing on.
We fought for this land, hand-to-
hand with mallee and barbs of scrub,
grappling with stumps, claiming it row by
row with little advance, keeping our
heads down, dodging the Turks of summer.
We cajoled the ground with songs and
curses, making the best we could,
scraping for survival. We will never be
Now survey the gains: channels
pulse hesitantly from the heart,
cut through by barrel-straight
borders, arbitrary lines dividing the
vital from dying.
We spend our days waiting for
water to course across this skin, to
curse the moment it arrives
The rains break at the wrong times: when I’m
out in the open or the trench isn’t
clear or over the dinner table. The
clouds split last night and none of us slept.
You never quite cough up all the
grime, the sharp intake of morning
breath. Digging stirs up the dust on
dry days, the golden clouds, the
dirt we carry home in our lungs.
You don’t perceive the weakness
beneath the crust until you dig,
expose the hidden flaws, the layered
grit, a permanent incapacity to
There is the taste of metal in the
soil, the sediments of blood and
bone, the noble rust on the fruit and
This land hopes the hope and
We ignore the common report of a rifle
rolling over the blocks, getting rid of
vermin like rabbits or foxes or
memories: an honourable discharge, the
last post of the land letting go.
The suns smoothes a blanket across
remembering ground and turns the
wick down low. My skin carries
warmth, my back tight with industry.
You never quite shake off all the dirt. We
sleep with it. We do what we can.
We have no choice but to
We had a fantastic exhibition opening on 22 April 2015 at ANCA Gallery in Canberra. The first showing of works from this project, the turnout was brilliant and CJ Bowerbird's performance was incredibly moving. Nigel Featherstone gave a touching speech and grateful also to Nigel Lendon, Chair of the ANCA Board who gave a lovely introduction. Thanks to City News for catching some pics for their social pages. The exhibition runs until 10 May 2015 at ANCA Gallery, 1 Rosevear Ave, Dickson ACT. Open Wednesday - Sunday 12-5pm.
It's officially one week to the opening night of Post-War: Thousand Mile Stare. I've been working hard in my studio and it's coming together. I'm thrilled to say that Pam and Phil Shugg are coming across for the opening. The wonderful writer Nigel Featherstone is opening the show and CJ Bowerbird is performing. So if you can make it please do come along to the opening:
ANCA Gallery, 1 Rosevear Pl. Dickson ACT
Opening 6pm Wednesday 22 April 2015.
I have all the excitement and nerves you'd expect - will be glad when the work is all up and I can see clearly where things are at.
This exhibition runs until 10 May 2015 so if you can't make the opening there is still time to catch the show.
Image: studio shot at WIP stage from the piece 'A Thousand Miles', Ink and acrylic drawing on Kozo.
Katy Mutton is a Canberra based, Australian Visual Artist whose practice is informed by an ongoing concern around trauma and warfare and how these relate to our cultural identity and history. For more information on her artwork visit www.katymutton.com