As a dual citizen of New Zealand and Australia, with strong familial ties to the United States, I am interested in notions of national identity in the era of globalisation and and this was my starting point. With Anzac Day falling mid-way during the challenge period, it was natural that I was drawn to this as a possible subject. Anzac Day marks the first first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War and the Gallipoli campaign is often cited as where each country forged a national consciousness distinct from "mother England". I was mulling over how I to convey such notions in a quilt* when I came across another compelling World War I news story with identity at its core - Lost and Found at Fromelles.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission which is seeking the registration of affected families to provideDNA samples to establish a genetic profile and data for the men.The Battle of Fromelles has been described as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history with 5533 casualties recorded including 1780 dead. The Commission estimates that more than 165,000 Commonwealth soldiers killed on the Western Front remain missing. Fast forward to the 21st century and Australian soldiers continue to serve in conflicts beyond our shores. These days, the bodies of dead soldiers are typically repatriated although, in a distressing case of mistaken identity and Jacob Kovco, this process can take two tries. But that is another story.
In terms of techniques, Lost & Found was created with painted fusible webbing, free-motion quilting and embellishments. The striking image of a white gloved hand holding the fragment of a soldier's uniform from Fromelles, prompted some rummaging around in my button jar for suitable embellishment items. Then I found some rusty bottlecaps on my morning walk that seem even more appropriate.
* I was aware of the painting by Euan McLeod that won the 2009 Gallipoli Art Prize. Then, as I prepared this blog post, for the first time I visited the Gallipoli Art Prize website which features some other very interesting artworks. I think you would agree that the very last painting, Lest we Forget by Vilma Bader, would sit easily alongside many contemporary textile works.