Thursday 10 May 2007 by Janda Gooding. 2 comments
George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes, Exhibition, Battlefield Tours, Gallipoli Mission, George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes Exhibition, Landscape, Landscapes of war

On their first day in the 'Old ANZAC area'*, Lambert and Hubert Wilkins (the official photographer of the Australian Historical Mission) were taken down to ANZAC Cove by Charles Bean. Bean was keen to introduce them to the area and show them the dugout that he had occupied during 1915. The following day, 16 February 1919 Lambert made another visit to the beach and then again the next day. As a group they retraced the steps of Hedley Vicars Howe who as a Private had landed with 11 Battalion on the morning of 25 April 1915. Howe's account of the landing and climbing up Plugge's Plateau would also largely inform the narrative that runs through Lambert's large commissioned work ANZAC, the landing 1915. (a separate post to follow)

Lambert held off painting an ANZAC Cove subject until towards the end of his stay on Gallipoli with the Australian Historical Mission. On 5 March he made a painting of the beach with the hills of Suvla in the distance and wrote: "In the afternoon I did a picture, not a sketch, of ANZAC Cove, chiefly palette-knife, and quite like it". This work - unusual for Lambert in that as he observes he used a palette knife - is quickly sketched in with only the barest indication of the complex topography of the slopes leading up from the beach. But, his painting also shows the debris of war still littered across the beach including the ruins of a water-condensing plant.

Hubert Wilkins also took a photograph of the scene from the beach level and this more clearly shows the remnants of the terraces and rubbish along the water line. Wilkins' and Lambert's images are both classically composed with the sweeping curve of the bay, but each conveys a different sort of information. Wilkins' photo indicates the stucture of the altered landscape and gives an immense amount of information - Lambert gives us an impression of the confused and still raw landscape of war.

In 2007 the scene has changed dramatically. The beach is shallower due to the build up required to support the road and possibly the natural shifting processes of coastlines has contributed to this erosion. Ari Burnu headland is clothed in green scrub and any terrace contours are invisible in the dense vegetation. However, as you come around the road past Hell Spit and see ANZAC Cove for the first time, it is still instantly recognisable by the curve of the beach and distinctive profile of the headland.

Anzac Cove with Ari Burnu headland, April 2007 Anzac Cove with Ari Burnu headland, April 2007

* Charles Bean used the term 'Old ANZAC area' in his book Gallipoli Mission to denote all the ground held by the ANZAC forces from April 1915 until the second major thrust in August 1915.



Apart from the comparison of the landscape then and now, it's interesting to see such an early Paget Plate colour photograph beside the contemporary painting and modern photograph. Says a lot for the advanced development (no pun intended!) of the technology of this early colour photography process.


This looks like a very, very good exhibition. I'm in Paris so I'm going to miss it but I'd like to see the same sort of thing done for the Sandakan P.O.W. camp tragedy in Borneo (my father was there).