Large exhibition marks Kiwi involvement in Battle of Cassino
10 May 2010
Emotions of about 40 NZ artists appear on canvas at the biggest Kiwi art exhibition in Italy as one of the most moving NZ art events overseas opens at Cassino in Italy on Saturday.
The event will be held at Cassino on May 15-29 to commemorate New Zealand's involvement in the Battle of Cassino there 66 years ago.
Kiwi artists who have a connection with soldiers who fought in Cassino make up most of the entries. Italian-based Kiwi organiser Kay de Lautour Scott said it was their "busy time" of the year in Cassino with veterans groups, commemoration services and unveiling of new memorials.
The NZ art exhibition has attracted substantial interest in Italy and will be held in Cassino's public library with a formal gala opening on Saturday. Many of the artists are depicting links between New Zealand and Italy, featuring their fallen relatives and other connections to the battle.
De Lautour Scott said works range from showing the destruction and horror of war (Merv Appleton of Auckland Ronda and Turk of Levin) to the tranquillity of the peace rose (Jenny Bennett of Whangarei).
Works by Italian born artists (now living in NZ) Margherita Giampietri (Whitianga)and Francesca Gallo (Auckland) reflects childhood memories culturally integrated themes.
``American-based Sarah Scott's portraits have a challenging poignancy, showing the personal tragedy of war while the paintings by Chrissy Brook (Christchurch) and Rachel Olsen (Whitianga) bring a rich New Zealand flavour to the exhibition. Susan Edge (Waipu) has produced four works bringing a different perspective to the history she has explored.
``Ann Fletcher (Opotiki) offers a space for contemplation in a delicately woven pencil work, while Frances Rookes (Taranaki) uses a genuine army blanket in her 3 dimensional textile and wire art. Eleanor Wright's (Auckland) delicate charcoals include a portrait of her grandfather in uniform.
``It is evident that a lot of research has been done, and veterans have contributed to the stories being told in paint, glass, photography and sculpture. Other works are being sent over for display in Italy to bring a sense of closure to families and veterans.''
About a dozen artists head to Cassino this weekend for the exhibition opening. Most of the contributing artists had grandparents, uncles and relatives who fought in World War Two, or who fought in Italy and some had parents, grandparents and uncles who were at the Battle of Cassino.
Artists taking part are from Patea, Christchurch, Upper Hutt, Waipu, Whitianga, the USA, Italy, Auckland, Mt Maunganui, Napier, Opotiki, Orewa, South Otago, Whangarei, Levin, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Oban, Pokeno and Wellington.
The NZ Ambassador to Rome Laurie Markes will tour the exhibition on May 17. The event has been organised by de Lautour in Cassino and NZ Art Guild manager Sophia Elise (in Auckland) without charging for any of their services.