Official war artists

In April 2003 the Australian War Memorial appointed Lewis Miller as its official artist and David Dare Parker as its official photographer to document the actions and experiences of Australian Defence Force personnel during the Second Gulf War. Miller spent three weeks, and Dare Parker six weeks, with the RAN, the RAAF and the Army in the Middle East.

Miller found working in the high temperatures difficult: his gouache paints dried before he could use them and the gum in his solid blocks of watercolour melted. Travelling with the highly mobile units, he sometimes had only minutes to record people and scenes.

The Memorial has a long history of official war artists, going back to the First World War, but Dare Parker’s appointment was the first time the Memorial had commissioned its own official photographer. Although during the First World War photographers had been attached to the Australian War Records Section, they and later photographers appointed by government departments or employed directly by the defence forces.

Miller and Dare Parker worked side by side much of the time and their work displayed here shows both the similarities and differences of their approaches to the same subject matter.

Both were attached to the Defence History Unit and faced constraints in where they were permitted to go and what they witnessed. However, both have been able to create images that record the Australians’ involvement in the war and give us a glimpse into the human condition.

David Dare Parker

ART92036 David Dare Parker
Lewis Miller
ART92036

In April 2003 the Australian War Memorial appointed David Dare Parker as its official photographer for the Second Gulf War. Dare Parker spent six weeks with the RAN, the RAAF and the Army in the Middle East. The photographs he took record the daily life of these men and women, at rest and on patrol.

Dare Parker’s appointment was the first time the Memorial had commissioned its own official photographer. Although during the First World War photographers had been attached to the Australian War Records Section, they and later photographers were appointed by government departments or employed directly by the defence forces.

Dare Parker and official artist Lewis Miller were both attached to the Defence History Unit and faced constraints in where they could go and hence what they could see. However, both have been able to create images that record the Australians’ involvement in the war and give us a glimpse into the human condition.

Lewis Miller

P04102.031 Lewis Miller
David Dare Parker
P04102.031

In April 2003 the Australian War Memorial appointed Lewis Miller as its official artist to document the actions and experiences of Australian Defence Force personnel during the Second Gulf War. Miller spent three weeks with the RAN, the RAAF and the Army in the Middle East.

The official war art scheme was begun during the First World War and continued during the Second World War, Korean and Vietnam wars, Interfet operations in East Timor, and Australia’s participation in the “war against terrorism”. Miller is the 58th official artist to be appointed.

Miller found working in the high temperatures difficult: his gouache paints dried before he could use them and the gum in his solid blocks of watercolour melted. Travelling with the highly mobile units, he sometimes had only minutes to record people and scenes. His portraits of SAS troops are faceless, a reminder of the need to disguise the identities of these men for reasons of security.