Former Tweed girl takes a fresh look at war art

Kate Hallen will be among Southern Cross University students exhibiting artworks from Friday November 21.
Kate Hallen will be among Southern Cross University students exhibiting artworks from Friday November 21. John Waddell

ARE we really meant to be fighters?

This is just one of the questions posed by Southern Cross University visual arts honours student Kate Hallen, in the lead-up to the exhibition of her final exhibition.

The former Tweed Shire resident Kate Hallen will be among the emerging artists putting their work on display at the university on Friday night.

Ms Hallen, a visual arts honours student, has taken a fresh look at war art.

"Some of the most memorable pieces of war art represent acts of gallantry, heroism and honour," Ms Hallen said.

"We are most familiar with classical images of soldiers charging into battle on the backs of horses and diggers charging against all odds to confront the enemy."

Inspired by former Archibald Prize winner Ben Quilty's recent work, After Afghanistan, Ms Hallen said she wanted to "look past the hero" and focus on the human involved in conflict.

"I wanted to create an image that invites the audience to explore the work slowly and make their own discoveries and connections - as opposed to the quick and immediate way we might view an image of war with all our recent and constant exposure to overseas conflicts," she said.

Ms Hallen's final works, which will be on display at the University's Lismore campus from tomorrow, explore the origins of military-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

"My works depict war machines and animals - through this, I am trying to represent the struggle a (PTSD) sufferer must face," she said.

"Once a soldier is discharged, they may struggle trying to locate themselves within a civilian lifestyle that lacks militaristic ideals."

Ms Hallen said her aim was to create art which invited the audience to explore the work slowly and "make their own discoveries".

It's not just hard research and other artists that has inspired Ms Hallen's work.

"Having lived with a sufferer of PTSD for the majority of my life, I have seen the ups and the downs of the condition," Ms Hallen said.

"With all the recent coverage and exposure to various overseas conflicts, we find ourselves in a significant time - soldiers going to and returning from these conflicts, and with it, another generation of sufferers of PTSD and those who are closely associated to them."

The exhibition opens at Southern Cross University on Friday November 21 with an official event from 5.30pm to 8pm, and will remain on display each day until Friday November 28.

It will be open for viewing from 10am to 4pm during that time. 

Topics:  art lismore southern cross university tweed heads

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