Arts / Canberra meets Belgium in art show

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Excerpt of a drawing of the Australian War Memorial

AN adventurous young pair of self-styled “Antipodean” artists have created a unique exhibition now showing at the Embassy of Belgium.

Launched yesterday (November 8) before a large crowd at the embassy, the exhibition, “31 Days in Belgium meets 31 Days in Canberra”, is part of a roving project undertaken by Perth photographer Zoe Elliott and New Zealand artist Tim Vaughan-Sanders, who typically spends 31 days in a city/country capturing the people, landscape and landmarks with one illustration each day.

Luckily, Canberra has been one of the chosen cities.

Graves at Passchendaele

As explained by the Belgian Ambassador, Marc Mullie, the embassy and the artists wanted to show the Nation’s Capital and Belgium “as you have never seen it before”. During the exhibition, the artworks are on sale of which the profit will be donated to the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Ambassador Mullie said that the pair had travelled to places as diverse as the Faroe Islands, Paris, and Belgium in in search of experiences to record.

‘They be Swoopin’

In his view the exhibition made a nice change, since most Australians associated Belgium with beer, chocolates and trade. He praised their art style of work, saying it was amazing how familiar most of their scenes felt.

Elliott told “CityNews” that she usually snaps a picture each day, after which Vaughan-Sanders turns it into a drawing. 31 days gives them time to get to know a place.

Both artists are fond of bears and like to include Winnie-the-Pooh type animals in their artworks as a focal point, which is best shown in drawings of a Canberra bus shelter filled with bears and another of a bear assailed by magpies.

Canberrans will enjoy seeing familiar landmarks like the National Carillon, shot at sunset and the “rainbow” roundabout in Lonsdale Street, Braddon, while there is the opportunity to view landmarks and culture of Belgium too.

‘Brutaful’, High Court of Australia

In both the Canberra and Belgian sections of the exhibition, a linking point is World War I, as in the image of war graves at Passchendaele, where so many Belgians, Australians and New Zealanders perish.

The Canberra section draws on World War I experiences with a visual response to the 62,000 crocheted poppies and a beautifully angled image of the wall of remembrance at the Australian War Memorial.

But mostly it’s a light-hearted show. Elliott told those at the launch that they’d found Canberra humour “quirky”, but she and Vaughan-Sanders are not far behind, as their captioning shows – “our favourite” description of the High Court of Australia as “Brutaful”, a reference to its brutalist architectural style.

“31 Days in Belgium meets 31 Days in Canberra”, at the Belgian embassy, 19 Arkana Street, Yarralumla, November 10-24, Mondays and Wednesdays, 10am-1pm, Saturdays, 11am-4.30pm. All welcome.


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Helen Musa
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