Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial
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ID number ART26524
Title POW just returned from Burma
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Griffin, Murray (Artist)
Place made Singapore: Changi
Date made c 1943
Medium pencil on paper
Measurement overall: 28.3 x 36.4 cm


Depicts an emaciated man, recently returned from Burma-Thailand railway, resting in a hospital bed and showing his physical condition. This is one of a small collection of works on paper by Murray Griffin, a captured official war artist, done in Changi. Over the three years, Griffin's work changes from an optimistic record of camp life, to detached evidence of atrocities and death. The works deal with themes of camp life, making do, and the brutality of forced labour. Griffin noted; 'It would be terrible if we who knew the horrors that modern warfare brought . . . did not record them'. When the first survivors of the Burma-Thailand Railway returned to Changi at the end of 1943, Griffin was shocked by their diseased and emaciated condition, and his work became increasingly pessimistic. Murray Griffin was a painter, graphic artist and teacher. During the Second World War was was an official war artist , from June 1941 with the 8th Division AIF in Malaya. He was taken as a POW at the Fall of Singapore in February 1942 and returned to Australia in October 1945.