A shared experience
The experiences of Australia, Canada and Britain during the Second World
War were shared ones. These countries were, after all, allies fighting a
common enemy; they were also nations profoundly and historically linked
politically, economically and socially; and, on notable occasions, they
were involved in joint military operations. Geography, politics and
military events created and shaped threats which demanded responses
that were unique to each country. However, the common ground of Art and
War - Australia, Britain and Canada in the Second
World War is the impact the war had on individual lives: the men and
women that feature in these works are shown waiting, preparing, fighting,
The paintings and sculptures in Art and War -
Australia, Britain and Canada in the Second World War are grouped into
general themes that reflect these elements, rather than specific events.
- Battle is the obvious
starting point and reflects heroism and excitement alongside the
inevitable destruction and loss;
Service involved waiting
and preparing no less - and probably more - than actual fighting.
- Work acknowledges the
way in which society was re-ordered, both through the effects of new
technology and the need to replace workers and increase output.
- Both Captivity and
to measure and reflect the constraints and the demands placed on people,
and, ultimately, the price they had to pay, both at the time and then
through the slow years of healing.
- Finally, Home and
Leisure look at a broad
range of experiences: the means of escape, the fleeting pleasures,
living with loss, the celebration of peace, and, eventually,
the return home.
This is the first exhibition of its kind to explore how Australia,
Britain and Canada lived through and recorded the greatest conflict in
human history. The works on display highlight notable differences in
outlook and expectation, both nationally and individually. Some images
do not sit comfortably together; others retain an almost ineffable power
to move and disturb. All of them are able to take us back into lives and
experiences now distant from our own, but arising out of a time that
still affects us, and indeed shapes the way we are.
Art and War - Australia, Britain and Canada in the
Second World War consists of 96 works of art from the collections of
Canadian War Museum,
Australian War Memorial,
Imperial War Museum.
presentation of this exhibition at the Canadian War Museum was made
possible by a generous donation from the Beaverbrook Canadian