Friday, July 20, 2018

The small French village of Vignacourt was always behind the front lines. For much of the First World War it was a staging point, casualty clearing station and recreation area for troops of all nationalities moving up to and then back from the battlefields on the Somme. Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt tells the story of how one enterprising photographer took the opportunity of this passing traffic to establish a business taking portrait photographs.

Captured on glass, printed into postcards and posted home, the photographs made by the Thuillier family enabled Australian soldiers to maintain a fragile link with loved ones in Australia. The Thuillier collection covers many of the significant aspects of Australian involvement on the Western Front, from military life to the friendships and bonds formed between the soldiers and civilians.

The exhibition showcases a selection of the photographs as handmade traditional darkroom prints and draws on the Australian War Memorial’s own collections to tell the story of these men in their own voices. An Australian War Memorial Touring Exhibition.

A special exhibition opening at the Cowra Regional Art Gallery is on Friday 20 July 2018 at 6pm for 6.30pm including an official welcome by Cr Bill West, Mayor Cowra Shire Council and the opening address by Guest Speaker Major General (Retired) Brian Dawson AM, CSC, representing the Australian War Memorial. Admission is free.

On Saturday 21 July from 1.30pm the Gallery is presenting a special Floor Talk by Joanne Smedley, Curator of Photographs in the Photographs, Film and Sound Section at the Australian War Memorial. This will include some of the key stories in the Vignacourt collection, how it was uncovered, its journey to Australia and the extensive research work that has been undertaken by both Memorial staff and members of the public. Joanne will discuss some of the personalities who have been identified and how this has occurred when no identification information was received with the collection.

Following the exhibition floor talk visitors who have a photographic collection are invited to bring along a few key photographs from their collection to discuss with Joanne Smedley (who is a First World War specialist) for comment. One thing though as a public servant she does not give valuations.

The Cowra Regional Art Gallery is located at 77 Darling Street and open Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm, Sunday 2pm – 4pm. General admission is free. For Gallery enquires telephone 63402190. The Cowra Regional Art Gallery is a Cultural Facility of the Cowra Shire Council.

Image: Two soldiers of the 5th Australian Division, November 2016. Courtesy the Kerry Stokes Collection, The Louis and Antoinette Thuillier Collection.

For media enquires contact the Gallery Director Brian Langer on 0429072282