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Army Art Exhibition launch - PM Speech

Army Art Exhibition launch

Launch of the New Zealand Army Art Exhibition, showcasing the work of Matt Gauldie, the current official artist of the New Zealand Army, and of former official artists.

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Thursday 20 April
Academy of Fine Arts (Queens Wharf), Wellington

Thank you for inviting me to launch the New Zealand Army Art Exhibition this evening, showcasing the work of Matt Gauldie, the current official artist of the New Zealand Army, and of former official artists.

This exhibition follows last year's successful "Army in Art" exhibition, which was the first Army Art exhibition since 1950 when the work of the official War Artist Peter McIntyre was showcased.

I have been proud as Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage to be associated with many projects recognising our country's war history and its impact on New Zealand.

Those projects range from compiling oral histories of our veterans' experiences, to the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and the appropriate commemoration of significant military anniversaries offshore.

A highlight this year will be the dedication of the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London on Remembrance Sunday in November.

Exhibitions, such as this, are another way of telling the story of our military history.

The Army has a long history of commissioning New Zealand artists to portray that history.

Lance Corporal Nugent Herman Welch holds the distinction of being the first officially appointed Army Artist in April 1918. He is well known for his simple landscapes, which often featured ruined buildings. His works seldom included people.

In the closing stages of the First World War, Captain George Butler and Captain A. Pearce were also appointed as official Army Artists where they were tasked with producing pictures that depicted the work of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

During the Second World War, General Freyberg appointed Peter McIntyre to be the Divisional Artist. Once McIntyre started to paint for Freyberg, the New Zealand Government realized that, like other nations, an official War Artist was required. Their selection was Austen Deans who not long after was wounded and captured in Greece.

In late 1941, Prime Minister Peter Fraser visited the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt and on meeting McIntyre, allowed him to 'make-do in the meantime'. General Freyberg went on to refer to him as the Official War Artist.

Towards the latter stages of the Second World War, in 1944 Russell Clark and Alan Barns-Graham were appointed official Army Artists for the Pacific. Working within the 3rd New Zealand Division, both artists were active sketching and painting operations in the Pacific, primarily on the Solomon Islands.

In 1987 through until 1997 Ion Brown was appointed Army Artist. During this decade he travelled to Greece, Crete, Egypt, Turkey and Italy with the New Zealand Army to record its history in many of its fields of operation. He attended the 75th Anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and the 50th Anniversaries of many of the Second World War battles. Notably his work included "Battle of Chunuk Bair: A Sesquicentennial gift to the Nation in 1990.

During and following this period, Graham Braddock was commissioned to paint a number of one-off paintings including the now well known 'Waiting', a scene depicting soldiers at the Waiouru Railway Station.

More information on these Army Artists is displayed on the story-boards throughout the gallery.

The New Zealand Army and the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts established an association in late 2004. In April 2005 I had the pleasure of announcing the appointment of Matt Gauldie as the official Army Artist. I am now delighted to view what Matt has achieved in the past twelve months.

I am also pleased to see the Return of the Unknown Warrior series of paintings on public display here in Wellington again relating the significance of staging this exhibition around ANZAC Day.

The Chief of Army has described the immersion of Matt Gauldie into the NZ Army over the past twelve months. Matt's attendance on the recruit course inspired him to complete the "Recruit" series of paintings and begin what has become known as the series "A Day in the Life of a Soldier" that are displayed for the first time in the 2006 exhibition "New Zealand Army Art".

I look forward to seeing his future works depicting our soldiers on operations in the South Pacific, Afghanistan, and in the Middle East.

Now in conclusion, I declare the Exhibition "New Zealand Army Art" open.

Thank you.

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