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41 artists to send paintings to Kiwi exhibition


Media release – April 8, 2010

41 artists prepare to send paintings to Kiwi exhibition in Italy to mark Kiwi involvement in the Battle of Cassino

Forty-one selected artists are preparing to send their paintings to a landmark Kiwi exhibition in Italy to commemorate New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Organisers Kay de Lautour (in Cassino) and Sophia Elise (Auckland) said today the May 15 exhibition would be the biggest single New Zealand art event ever held in Italy.

Most of the artists had grandparents, uncles and relatives who fought in World War Two, or who fought in Italy and some had parents, grandparents and uncles who were at the Battle of Cassino.

Artists taking part are from Patea, Christchurch, Upper Hutt, Waipu, Whitianga, the USA, Italy, Auckland, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Opotiki, Orewa, South Otago, Whangarei, Levin, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Oban, Pokeno and Wellington. A number of them will be at the exhibition and staying at nearby Roccasecca, a town over 1000 years old where the Kiwi soldiers are well remembered.
The commemorative art event has been labelled the Legato exhibition. De Lautour said legato in Italian meant intertwined, like strands of rope, giving it strength.
``As with Italy and New Zealand, so many friendships were formed between families during WWII and maintained after the war.

``Now, two generations later, the grandchildren of the Kiwi soldiers are returning to Italy to visit these families, and young Italians are moving to New Zealand. Every year hundreds of New Zealanders visit the graves of their countrymen who remained here.

"Artists have a responsibility to reflect what is happening in society, and they do so whether they are conscious of it or not. In New Zealand we see Anzac Day parades growing in strength. World-wide there is a resurgence in interest in the history of the world wars. The time is right for artists to be proactive and take up the challenge of the old soldiers who urge us to ensure that "peace" is not an empty word," de Lautour said.

With Anzac Day just a few weeks away de Lautour said she always visited the Commonwealth Cemetery on the day to visit the graves of NZ soldiers. She said so many Kiwis still pay their respects at the cemetery every Anzac Day with new poppies, little flags, photos of soldiers and messages laminated in plastic propped against the graves.

``I think it would be nice for families to know that the tributes they leave are carefully maintained and even after bad weather are still neatly aligned against the headstones by the gardeners. Wellington College leave a tribute there every year or so and it always amazes me how long it stays there before it is replaced by the next visiting group from the school.’’

The NZ art exhibition will be held in Cassino’s public library complex in the centre of the town with a formal gala opening on May 15. Many of the artists are depicting links between New Zealand and Italy, featuring their fallen relatives and other connections to the battle.

The NZ Ambassador to Rome Laurie Markes will tour the exhibition on May 17. A souvenir programme has been produced which features a Cassino peace painting by Auckland artist Merv Appleton.

Ends

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