1911-1993

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Roy Hodgkinson sketching in New Guinea.
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Born in Sydney in 1911, Hodgkinson studied at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales under Dattilo Rubbo, and at the Central Technical School under Raynor Hoff. Educated as an illustrator and cartoonist, Hodgkinson worked from 1929 to 1931 on the Daily Guardian and the Sun in Sydney before moving to Melbourne to become an artist on the Herald.

From 1938, Hodgkinson spent two years in Europe, travelling and producing works of art. In 1939, he held exhibitions of his drawings of ballet dancers of the widely acclaimed De Basil company.

On his return to Australia, Hodgkinson enlisted as a trooper in the Armored Division and was made an official war artist in February 1942. In this capacity, he travelled widely, recording the war in northern Australia, New Guinea, India, Ceylon and Burma.

His scenes of northern Australia, mostly of Darwin, included graphic drawings of the Japanese raid on Darwin in 1942 and the raid's aftermath. He depicted Australian gunners, bomb damage to buildings and ships, and Japanese aircraft that had been shot down. Hodgkinson also drew the troops at rest and play, including fights in the canteen between men, smokos and the troops travelling.

In his drawings from New Guinea, Hodgkinson included scenes of jungle warfare, soldiers sitting in the trenches, views of the troops and tanks tracking through the jungle and the low level attacks of the American air force. He also recorded scenes from the Australian casualty clearing stations - the hospitals and facilities, operations taking place, injured soldiers and the treatment of tinea, which almost every soldier suffered in the humid New Guinea conditions.

The trip from New Guinea across the Indian Ocean is also well documented by Hodgkinson in his works depicting life at sea and shore leave in Colombo, Ceylon. Many of the pictures he produced in Burma portray the everyday life of the barracks.

Because of his illustration background, Hodgkinson's pictures from the war are almost cartoon-like in their accessibility to the viewer. This is enhanced by his choice of subject matter, which captures the everyday and the extraordinary, often at the same time. Hodgkinson allows the details in his works to capture the mood and surroundings of the characters portrayed.

The Memorial published many of Hodgkinson's sketches, pen and wash drawings and comic cartoons in its service annuals and postwar As you were series. Hodgkinson retired as chief artist for the Melbourne Herald in 1976 and died in 1993.