INTERNATIONAL EXHIBIT: English photographer Ian Alderman at his exhibition
INTERNATIONAL EXHIBIT: English photographer Ian Alderman at his exhibition "Recovering the Past" on show at Gatakers Artspace. Peter Groom and Dawn Powell from Maryborough take in the exhibition. Alistair Brightman

M'boro Gatakers hosts war photos

LONDON-based photographer Ian Alderman has been to 51 countries across his 25 years in commercial photography.

And the artist will call Maryborough home this month as Gatakers Artspace displays his exhibit, Recovering The Past, a project seven-and-a-half years in the making.

Inspired by Australian war photographer Frank Hurley, Mr Alderman wanted to complete a project to take part in the 100-year celebrations of Gallipoli to the Armistice.

The Fraser Coast is the first region in Australia to show his work and only the third public viewing after an exhibit at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium, where the project is set.

The photographic exhibition shows Australian Diggers who served on the Western Front in Belgium more than 100 years ago.

Fraser Coast cultural councillor David Lewis said that for the population of Belgium's West Flanders the Great War was still a daily fact of life.

"Despite the terrifying battles that were fought on its lands ending a century ago, the legacy of unexploded ammunition from that conflict is an ever-present problem," Cr Lewis said.

"Coming to a head in the twice yearly 'Iron Harvest' when farmers plough the fields to prepare or harvest their crops, on average 180 tonnes of unexploded ammunition is recovered and destroyed by the authorities.

"London-based photographer Ian Alderman is the only artist to have been given full access to the dangerous work and facilities of DOVO-SEDEE, the Belgium armed forces bomb disposal team responsible for clearing the ordinance.

"In 25 thought-provoking images Alderman has documented this team's work, while montaging into his photographs symbolic images of the Australian Diggers who served on the Western Front."

Maryborough RSL was instrumental in bringing the exhibition to Australia.

 

English photographer Ian Alderman with Year 6 Granville students at his exhibition
Ian Alderman discusses with Year 6 Granville students his exhibition at Gatakers Artspace. Alistair Brightman

President George Mellick said he felt the exhibition had an important message for today's audiences.

"Recovering The Past really highlights the consequences of war," Mr Mellick said.

"Both the ongoing physical consequences that still pose a danger in Belgium today but also the psychological consequences that plagued a generation.

"We feel it is our responsibility to ensure that the service of Australian men and women is never forgotten."

The exhibition has also been supported by the State Government with a Lasting Legacies grant.

While the exhibition is open, Mr Alderman is the artist-in-residence at Gatakers and is offering free tours for community groups and schools.

"I've been lucky to see first-hand the dangerous work of the Belgian bomb disposal team," Mr Alderman said.

"So, I find it really important to share this experience with as many people as possible.

"We all need to make sure we do not forget the lessons that history can teach us."

Mr Alderman said the consequences of war had personally affected his family when his great-grandfather returned from World Ward I with a bullet lodged in his spin rendering him a paraplegic.

"Not only did war have a personal consequence for my grandfather but my grandmother also spent the next two decades looking after him," he said.

"I wanted to explore what came after for a lot of people.

"The feedback from Maryborough has been all positive and the people seem really engaged.

"I think if I used any other country the photographs would have told a similar story of war but although I have no connection to Australia myself, no other country had the stunning work of the Australian war time artists and photographers to underpin my work as cultural icons," Mr Alderman said.

The 51-year-old photographer said he couldn't think of a better place for his first exhibit in the country.

"Maryborough is fantastic I had no idea it had such a heritage here," he said.

"The fact Maryborough has such a huge WWI heritage itself is very fitting.

"Gatakers has been amazing and the old building architecture make the town so charming.

"I can't wait until my first proper tour."

After the photographs leave the region, the exhibit will go to Gladstone.