“AND THEY MARCHED TO HILL 971-GALLIPOLI-1915” Acrylics, metallics and fine glitters on canvas 61 x 45 cm
The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the Allies greatest disasters in World War I. The land invasion started at dawn on 25th April 1915 and ended on the 9th January 1916.
The campaign was one of the greatest Turkish victories of the war and a major allied failure. It is regarded a defining moment in Turkey’s history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire declined. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli.
The campaign was the first major military action for Australia and New Zealand as independent nations, and the birth of national consciousness in those nations. The date of the landing, 25 April, is known as “Anzac Day” and it remains the most significant commemoration date of military casualties for those countries.
The ultimate aim was to open the Dardenelles Straights to the Allied navies, threaten Constantinople (now Istanbul) and hopefully put Turkey out of the war. The land action started when the attempt to force the Straights by naval action alone failed. Success for the land campaign depended on Turkish opposition quickly being overcome. It was a risky strategy and one that failed because the Turks fought hard for their homeland.
Gallipoli soon became another form of the Western Front with Trench warfare taking a prominent role and fighting was severe. The proportion of casualties was high and the summer heat led to huge amounts of illness, inedible food and huge swarms of black flies. Conditions became horrific.
The evacuation and acceptance of failure by the allies began in December and continued into January 1916.
Hill 971 was the highest point on the peninsular and during the campaign one of the objectives had been to seize this area from the turks and allow the capture of the Dardanelles Straights to be achieved. Unfortunately this objective was never achieved against fierce Turkish opposition and ultimately the campaign was a failure for the allied forces.
I first visited Gallipoli in 1997 with my then boyfriend (now husband) an expert in WWI and some of his friends. I wasn’t interested in finding all the beaches and trenches but thoroughly loved the birds and tortoises that we saw as we wandered about. It was hot even in April and we were there for the ANZAC day commemorations. Never for one moment did I think I would now be interested in WWI history and especially that I would be creating art that tells the stories of these events.The memory of the mountains over which we walked and drove in the sun has always remained with me. What an amazing world we live in full of opportunities and promise for the future.