View of lagoon from the eastern side of the island, Diego Garcia

Accession Number ART91774
Collection type Art
Measurement overall: 20 x 40 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on hardboard
Maker Churcher, Peter
Place made Indian Ocean: Diego Garcia
Date made 28 February 2002
Conflict Period 2000-2009
Afghanistan, 2001-

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


View of a lagoon. Peter Churcher recalled, "When I arrived in Diego Garcia I learned that the western side was basically given over to their undertakings but the entire eastern side was closed off by the British authorities and left in its natural state. On this eastern side I learned that there was the ruins of the old copra plantation which was established in the 19th century and was the only industry on the island prior to the military taking over. I enquired from the commanding officer of the RAAF whether it would be possible to venture over to the eastern side to see the deserted side of the island. The commanding officer gained permission from the British representatives of the island and he kindly drove me around to the eastern side. We explored the ruins of the old plantation and then found this beatific spot where I sat down and painted the scene of the lagoon looking back across the western side of the American naval ships in evidence out on the lagoon. It was a strange experience sitting in this totally unspoiled tropical paradise looking across to some of the most sophisticated and deadly machinery of war across the other side. The British to their credit are absolutely diligent about maintaining the environment. If you attempt to take a piece of coral dead or alive for a souvenir the fine is 500 pounds. In fact if you run over a coconut crab this can be a 1,000 pounds. The naval ships are not allowed to dump matter whatsoever into the lagoon. People swim in it. I swam in it. Amazing island. Very hot and sticky. It's like being in Darwin".