Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Australian War Memorial.

While I was in Canberra recently, I visited the Australian War Memorial. I went there a lot when I was young, but it's safe to say that as an adult, and as a student of Australian history, I saw it through completely different eyes.

Roll of honour, Australian War Memorial.

I didn't actually get to see a lot of the museum, because there was a power failure and we all had to leave! One of the displays that affected me most, though, was a series of seven etchings by a British artist named Percy Smith. The Dance of Death was inspired by Hans Holbein, and Smith has reworked the theme in stark modern tones. One of the prints, Death refuses, depicts a soldier, surrounded by his dead comrades, reaching out to Death, who has his back turned as if to say, "Sorry, it's not your turn yet." It's completely heartbreaking.

Death forbids.
Percy Smith, Death forbids, 1919.

I've been searching online for more information about Percy Smith, and I've been having no luck at all. I'd love to know if these prints have been republished since their original run - they're just incredible.

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