Ben Quilty Official War Artist - Media Release

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Australian War Memorial’s official war artist and Archibald prize winner, Ben Quilty, has recently returned from a tour of Afghanistan.  Inspired by his tour, Quilty has already started working in his studio.

“As the latest official war artist for the Memorial, Quilty joins a long line of distinguished artists, beginning with those such as George Lambert and Arthur Streeton who were commissioned during the First World War” said Nola Anderson, Assistant Director, Branch Head National Collection.

“He is the fourth artist the Memorial has sent to Afghanistan to record Australia’s current deployments” Anderson added.

From 11 October until 3 November 2011, Quilty was attached to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) observing their activities in Kabul, Kandahar and Tarin Kowt.  His task was to record and interpret the experiences of Australian service personnel who are deployed as part of Operation Slipper.

As part of the commission, Quilty’s work will, over the next six months, produce a number of works for the Memorial’s National Collection.

“As a young teenager I was constantly paranoid about being conscripted. I was honoured and so anxious when asked to be the official Australian war artist earlier this year” said Quilty. “The trip I’ve just completed has been life changing. Afghanistan is hauntingly beautiful. The people who took care of me there are an inspiration.”

Quilty’s works will explore the highly challenging roles faced by service personnel and their day to day experiences in the field.  The Afghanistan landscape will also feature prominently through his works.

Quilty brings great experience to the commission, and employs a wide range of genre including portraits, figurative subjects, still life and landscapes. His work frequently explores the machines and rituals related to contemporary street cultures. Quilty is a major Australian artist who creates bold large-scale pictures.  He uses vibrant colours and broad brush strokes that build thick layers of oil paint.

He is represented throughout Australian national and state galleries and frequently exhibits in major national group and solo exhibitions including a major retrospective in 2009, at the University of Queensland Art Museum.  He won the Archibald prize this year with a portrait of Margaret Olley.

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