Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War @ National Library of AustraliaShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
Keepsakes is a wonderful word for the paraphernalia, memorabilia, documents, letters,photos, press cuttings ephemera and trinkets collected to remind of all manner of events and occasions. We all have keepsakes; some might take over a large part of our homes, many will be small treasures and some of us keep them with us all the time. The National Library of Australia is a repository of more keepsakes then we can imagine, with 600,000 photographs alone, and judging by the just opened exhibition, Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War their repository of collected , gifted and donated keepsakes must be a treasure trove of discovery.
Opened to coincide with our commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing and of course the Great War this exhibition will give you an insight into diverse aspects of this time when for King and country young Australian men were swept up in the excitement of going to war. The propaganda is confronting for those who didn’t, the cartoons witty and cutting and our favourite gumnut babies from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were caught up in the whole nationalistic fervor as Gumnut Soldiers on postcards. Frank Hurley’s photos are extraordinary and a small example of his brilliance.
It is an exhibition to take time to examine. To find aspects to explain behavior and personalize so many of the details. Personal letter especially do that, and there’s some lovely local connections in the correspondence. But I loved reading the ‘Australaise’ lyrics by CJ Dennis for his seven versed Marching Song where if appropriate the word ‘blooming’ could be inserted where the dashes were placed. I’m sure by today’s standards that was almost too polite!
Fellers of Australia,
Blokes an’ coves an’ coots,
Shift yer --- carcasses,
Move yer--- boots,
Gird yer--- loins up
Get yer--- gun
Set the enemy
An’ watch the blighters run.
Generations on another soldier who has seen the horrors and futility of war from a 21st century perspective was honoured to open this exhibition. Ben Roberts- Smith VC MG spoke of the modern day and how keepsakes might be different but the need and meaning is just as important.
For Barbara Searle a photo of the wedding of her in-laws, Kate McLeod and George Searle in 1915 is an impressive keepsake used as the poster picture for this exhibition. Barbara proudly attended the early morning sneak peek and evening official opening where her son and daughter-in-law, Jamie and Tessa Searle, joined this very proud lady. Keepsakes: Australians and the Great War continues at the National Library of Australia until 19 July 2015