Soundings - in search of my father's war
It all began with a war time photograph in a museum in Venice...
...which led me to research my father's time in North Africa and Italy during 1943 - 1945.
This year we commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1 – “The War to end all Wars”. Yet 21 years later in 1939, the world was plunged into a Second World War. As part of that war, the campaign fought in North Africa and Italy, between 1942 and 1945, tied up Axis troops and resources as the Allies prepared for the Normandy landings in France. The Italian Campaign resulted in nearly 700,000 casualties from both sides.
Sometimes referred to as ‘The D-Day Dodgers’, the troops in Africa, Sicily and Italy endured grueling conditions. Intense summer heat, followed by heavy rains that turned roads to mud and swollen rivers into watery graves. Much of their journey was through mountainous terrain where they were exposed to freezing winter temperatures for weeks on end. Men and women from as far afield as India, Canada and New Zealand, as well as the United States and Great Britain united against fascism and racism. Yet we have learned nothing from the past, for hatred and racism persist, and the world is still at war.
The paintings in this exhibition were never intended as historical documentary, but rather reflect the emotional journey on which I have been engaged for the past year, searching for that untold story. In trying to achieve a closer understanding of those years I have learned much, but have also lost my way at times - “the echo among the hills made sound bearings unreliable”*. From a distance of more than 70 years there can only ever be soundings, but it is never too late to pay tribute to those who took that long road.
The Road Home
The Echo among the hills...