Tag Archives: war

Fresh Air

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Surrealism was born during the lunch break between the wars, a century ago. What had become of the precious Earth, of life. Nothing made sense anymore. The bombing catastrophes of crushed homes and disfigured people. Normal life was a nightmare and people couldn’t talk openly anymore, so surrealism became a language also; a visual code.

In 2009 the NGV hosted the Dali exhibition ‘Liquid Desire’ and the most haunting and disturbing painting was Mountain Lake (1938). The painting captured the helplessness of what was coming.


The backstory was that the communications between Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister; and Adolf Hitler were cut, leading into the horrific 2nd War. Dali’s works are full of crutches, just as Melbourne artist John Brack’s shop windows, are of artificial limbs, for the war veterans that came home.


The war broke out in 1914, but before the turn of the Century the Pre-Rapaelites were encouraging people to return to nature.Pre-Raphaelite-Waterhouse

What will the artists say now. Apartments have become prison cells. The health concerns are genuine, but we need to think in our isolation, where Australia will be in the future. Not just for us, but for all of us. We are not media fodder, we are an educated and intelligent community.


Armies have fought for our freedom.

The world has not been that kind to its creative minds. They are different, and when they warn, nobody listens. Our country was de-regulated when our Government was looking into its pocket, instead of the future. Property was once just a home, not a card deck for speculators; but without industry what else can we offer. We have crushed the hope of young families having a home. What is the option?

The Agenda 21 folk have an idea, I don’t think its a very good one. De-populate and put people in high rise ‘Commission’ type of flats. I personally like fresh air and a step to sit on, in a yard, with a nice tree.

Local street artist Peter Drew is looking forward to a hug.



Yellow Taxi lyrics Joni Mitchell




How do you prepare for War?

During the recess of WW1 and WW2, could the German Jewish war veterans that fought for the German Army, have imagined that a new war was coming, that would destroy them, if it could. In those day’s Europe folded, now they follow the piper. These are new days.

In the second war, some unlikely alliances rose to survive; England, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and the Old Commonwealth; then the Americans came to fight. As these quarters rested, new wars brewed and we often wonder, who lit the match. The Asian wars, the African wars and the Middle East. Nation against nation. Weapons, Hired Guns and Slaves are a thriving enterprise and someone is making a profit.

Refugees; homeless, all full of anxiety, rock in the ocean and await angry shores for a smile, a wave and a welcome new home. Could it be you, will it be you?

How do you prepare for war? Who are our friends, who is a spy? If the bully fails, are we safer or worse off? Do our blind guides know where they are going?

Will the garden idols save us? Who are the hired hands fighting for? Don’t lose your head, stay calm; why should we care?

How do you prepare for war? Will your house survive? Where will you hide? What will you wear? Can you make a fire, or plant a garden when the fuel and food are gone. Who will you pray too, when the bombs fall? Ask a refugee and ask how they survived a war.


War,War; rumour of a war


Australian Artist, Ben Quilty explores the depth of death, particularly murder, and the brutal assault of hastening it’s arrival. He is on tour through the desolate heartland of emptiness, an intrepid explorer, however climbing Everest is not his goal, his road leads into the deepest darkest terrains of the human experience.

“I am interested in humans”

Quilty was engaged as a War Artist for Afghanistan. The experience brought him face to face with Australians that are endlessly jeopardising their own mortality and live within a violence that has been raging for 18 years. Many have lost their lives and limbs, whist Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has gorged trenches, within the soldiers minds.

The Gallery visitor that has just had a glass of wine over lunch is taken into a war torn Earth, of shores littered with abandoned life-jackets from a fleeing population, naked soldiers shivering with PTSD and picnic spots that robbed Aboriginals of their life, dignity and history.


The crisis of war washes up on the Grecian shores, as refugees flee their homeland to find safety abroad. The refugees have left all of their belongings and donned  lifejackets to cross, freezing sea’s in the black of the night. The reality of the Syrian crisis has not infiltrated the ‘connected world’ and the lack of response, drew the artist in. He intends to make the public aware of the trauma these young children are experiencing, by publishing a book of artwork by young Syrian victims.

                                     “My work is about how to live in this world”

In his homeland, Quigley explores landscapes of the Australian Genocide against its Aboriginal population. In his Rorschach landscapes of Fairy Bower and Amata, the artist documents a howling dark presence in place of a tribal home where children would have ran happily through the trees and bathed in the waterfall and its streams.

Quilty explores humans wrecking havoc on other humans, because they can, or are obliged to, within the social framework of the current systems. Environment’s may appear inviting and innocent but Quigley examines that which is lurking beneath. There is an anger in Quiltys work, he is hurting and you must too.

Quilty is a proficient landscape and figurative artist that can morph into a nightmarish surrealism. Quilty is battling a demon much larger and more connected than he. He wants justice, the paintings are the evidence and the gallery space is the court room. Quilty has managed to captured the attention of the art public with his profound statements in thickly plastered paint.

Like Van Gogh, he uses sculptural paint and his tortured metamorphosis are in keeping with Brett Whitely and Francis Bacon.


Quilty’s has witnessed war and it has taken its toll on him, as an artist and a human he has walked amongst the disenfranchised and documents their experience. Where journalists have dropped off , the social issues, like leaves, Quilty has become Australias fourth estate, placing the news, no longer in the paper, but on the walls. Quilty challenges us to look into our own backyard.



by April Forward

Surviving Hitler

Rosa’s story


Young Australian men joined forces and fought for Peace at a time when evil deeds were tools of power. War Stories surface from the battles and are told by the tired ones that survived. Both World Wars brought many refugees who fled Europe to build a life for future generations in Australia.

Rosa was born in Poland, she was 13 years of age when World War 2, broke out on September 1939. Her young life would be thrown into a horror that she would have to endure. What is most remarkable about Rosa’s account of what happened to her and her family was her unrelenting bravery.

Her father had a shop that sold leather goods such as purses, shoes and bags; it was a successful business that provided a comfortable life for Rosa and her family. The war encroached upon them bit by bit, schools were closed and then the shops were off limits to them because they were Jewish. They had to leave their home, possessions and business and move into a ghetto.

Rosa’s 17-year-old sister decided to go to Russia where she could continue her studies in design, or find work. Many Jewish people thought they would be safer in Russia. Meanwhile Rosa’s remaining family that included an older brother and a baby were resettled on a cold and raining day. In the morning was a ‘Selection’.

“We were lucky as we were all selected to go on one side, I don’t know which one was the good one, right or left? But we were allowed to go home. That day I lost my grandparents, aunties and uncles.” Rosa explains.

Many of Rosa’s extended family were sent to the death camps in the town of Auschwitz, they were ignorant of their fate and thought that the re-location was into the township. Life was very dangerous. A near by Synagogue was burnt with men within it and Rosa remembered the dreadful smell.

Her older brother was sent to a work camp. One day he came home with a self- inflicted wound, a friend at the camp had advised him to cut himself so that he could get some leave. It worked but overnight the wound got infected. It was curfew but the mother risked going out and pleaded with a German soldier to send for a doctor. His life was saved as the doctor came and gave him the medication he needed to recover.

Food was scarce and Rosa stood in bread lines from 5am in the morning, but it made no difference as she was denied her share, due to her ethnic background. Her father resorted to the Black Market. Most things were available on the Black Market so her father decided to sell his leather goods on it, to generate an income.

A Jewish man in their neighbourhood was collaborating with the Germans and he found out about the side business. Every Thursday Germans would search Rosa’s home and even though they could not find any evidence they arrested her father. Rosa’s mother paid a ransom to the traitor every week to free her husband and keep him out of jail.

The family were sent orders that Rosa was to go to a work camp even though she was very young and weak. Originally, they hid her at an Aunties’ house but she was discovered and reissued orders. Despite her family’s protests, Rosa decided to go so as to protect them from repercussions. Her father thought that if she were wounded, as her brother had been, she would be able to stay with them. He was wrong. He burnt his daughters arm with acid and that action diverted her from being sent to the work farm but put her in line for Auschwitz

The ‘traitor’ that had been collecting money from Rosa’s family saw that she was on the list to the death camp. He decided to help her due to the payments he had received.

“He could say who was going to live and who was going to die”. Rosa explains.

“Your too young to die” The Traitor told her.

She was saved from the death camp and ended up at a work camp where she was told that she would be making parts for bicycles. She was then told to give up all of her meagre possessions such as watches, photos and jewellery. As her greatest possession were two photographs (that she still has) she hid them behind a brick in the wall. They no longer called her by name but rather by a number, which she resented.

When she was working at the factory she went into a back office looking for an officer. She went into the vacated room and read the German signage on the wall and realised that they weren’t making bicycles. They were making bombs.

“’My God! What are you doing Rosa? Helping to kill your family, your friends? ”

No! I wont do it. Rosa explained her thoughts.

When she was discovered in the forbidden office, she pretended that she couldn’t read German. Secretly she asked God to forgive her lie. When she was returned to the factory she informed her friend of her discovery.

“I’m going to sabotage the bombs” young Rosa declared

“ I made them not to measurement, I made them bigger, they were good for nothing. My boss, he noticed and asked me to concentrate more, he was German so I couldn’t tell him. I broke the needles, I made them bigger and everyday he said, what you are doing is wrong. One day more men came and stood behind my back and watched me working. I break more needles; I make them bigger. They told me to stand up and sent me to a German woman, she was not very nice and she told me that I was to go to Auschwitz.”   Rosa recalled.

That was three months before the war had ended. Everyday Rosa reported to her and everyday she was told that she would go the following day. They couldn’t send her because the Liberation had begun; it was 1945. Suddenly there was no work for the girls and the factory seized operations. Men with guns surrounded the camp and called for the girls to come out but they were too frightened to do so. They yelled out to them that they were free but Rosa and her friends didn’t believe them until from a window, she saw her cousin in the crowd.

“Its not a joke anymore, we are free’ Rosa declared to the girls.

“We laughed, we cried, we kissed. The first thing I did was go a get the pictures,” Rosa explained.

Rosa came to Australia in 1960 with her husband and two children. They settled and made a new home. She is happy here and thinks that it is a beautiful country.

“ I have seven great grandsons. Hitler didn’t survive long enough to kill me too.” Rosa states.

Her final message to the next generation is that ‘we are all the same’ and not to discriminate!’

* Rosa spoke at the Jewish Holocaust Museum, Elsternwick

(Rosa’s older brother and sister survived but her parents and baby sister did not).