Gunner's canteen

Accession Number ART94379
Collection type Art
Title Gunner's canteen
Measurement image: 25.4 x 30.6 cm
Object types Painting
Maker Friend, Donald
Date made 1944
Copyright Status to be assessed

'Gunner's Canteen' shows a group of Australian soldiers from the 2nd Artillery Training Regiment dressed in their khaki uniforms sitting outside the camp canteen. In the background are white tents (the soldiers' accommodation) and the bare hills of the Australian landscape. It is likely Friend painted this scene while he was stationed at Greta between February and March 1944. Employing quite a flat picture plane, Friend disrupts the vista with the stragetic placement of standing and seated bodies, which have been bent into obvious angular poses. The shapes produced are further emphasied between the contrasting colours of skin and khaki clothing. These angles are repeated with the white tents in the background, which are further offset by the undulations of the hills beyond. Such a deliberate off-setting of the picture plane, and subdued colour palette show Friend embracing modernist principles of pictorial construction. Additionally, this scene of soldiers sitting at rest encapsulates the dull comraderie between soldiers formed from training and life far away from active battle zones. This work was completed prior to Friend's appointment as an official war artist of the Second World War.

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