Kamiri searchlight

Place Asia: Netherlands East Indies
Accession Number ART26787
Collection type Art
Measurement sheet: 55.5 x 78.2 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description gouache, pencil on paper
Maker Thake, Eric
Place made Netherlands East Indies
Date made June 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Eric Thake wrote to Captain John Treloar on 9 November 1947: 'The searchlight, I think belonged to the 16th American Anti-Aircraft Battery as they were camped on the other side and at the opposite end of the strip. The remains of a Japanese fox-hole can be seen on the reflected beach at "3 o'clock"'. The scene is at Kamiri airfield and shows the remains of a Japanese foxhole reflected in the lens of a 150 cm searchlight projector. 'Kamiri searchlight' was painted on Noemfoor Island, off Western New Guinea (Irian Jaya) in 1945. Anne McDonald writes: "Thake would seek out the detritus of war - wrecked buildings and aircraft and the everyday tools of war, such as this searchlight belonging to the American 16th Anti-aircraft Battery at the Kamiri Airstrip. The inverted reflection of the searchlight's support structure and of Thake drawing on the airstrip create an unfamiliar and curious view of the world. ...Thake never really saw himself as a Surrealist, yet much of his work, including 'Kamiri searchlight', has a surreal quality. He was particularly fascinated by the work of the English artist Edward Wadsworth, who delighted in placing unusual subjects in strange surroundings. Like Wadsworth, Thake too enjoyed the possibilities that this allowed him to instil humour and wit in his art." (Anne McDonald, 'Eric Thake' in Anne Gray, ed. 'Australian Art in the National Gallery of Australia', 2002.