Gary Ramage


Afghan diggers’ ghosts at the AWM

Afghan diggers’ ghosts at the AWM

Highly commended

2020
photograph
66 x 52 cm

Artist statement

My work is a tribute to the Australian artist Will Longstaff. His painting Menin Gate at Midnight has always held a special place in my heart. It inspired me to recreate a photographic image of ghostly figures at the Australian War Memorial.

In his painting, Longstaff depicts thousands of ghostly soldiers marching across a field in front of the Menin Gate war memorial. I obviously could not recreate this, so instead I made a photograph representing the diggers killed in combat while serving in Afghanistan, a conflict I have covered [as a photo journalist] for more than ten years.

Due to COVID 19 restrictions, on Anzac Day 2020 the usual crowds of thousands paying their respects at the Australian War Memorial were absent. I wanted to create an image that imagined the fallen there instead.  My photograph of ghostly figures on the site – captured in a single photographic exposure – is the result.

“Here is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we guard the record which they themselves made.” C.E.W. Bean.

The Australian War Memorial was located in direct line of sight of Parliament House as a constant reminder to the nation, so we do remember them.