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Robert Hannaford's My Gallipoli

Robert Hannaford’s watercolour works My Gallipoli in the Parliament House Art Collection depicts scenes from the First World War offering viewers a window into the Australian experience of serving at Gallipoli.

These works are included as reproductions in My Gallipoli (2015) by Ruth Starke with illustrations by Hannaford. The book examines the history of Gallipoli from the months before the landing at Anzac Cove in April 1915 to the Allied retreat and the aftermath of the First World War. The book also presents contemporary pilgrimages and commemoration ceremonies at the site of this historic campaign, both in written text and the illustrations, providing a comprehensive picture of the place and the stories.

In Starke’s research for the book, she was taken aback by the straightforward and undramatic nature of first-hand accounts of Gallipoli. Hannaford reflects this tone in his simple and unembellished style.1 The works remain evocative and intimate. Hannaford drew from his experience visiting Gallipoli as part of the development of the book. He reflected that:

I found it impossible not to be stirred by the rugged terrain on which these people fought, or moved by the sight of the cemeteries and memorials to the thousands who died in that eight-month battle. This first-hand experience gave me an emotional (as we as a physical) background to Ruth’s poignant stories in My Gallipoli”.2

Robert Lyall Hannaford AM
South Australian-born painter, sculptor and conservationist Robert Hannaford (born 1944) grew up on his family farm before moving to Adelaide in his teens to complete his education. He worked as a political cartoonist for the Advertiser from 1964 to 1967. Though largely self-taught, Hannaford’s passion for painting was encouraged by Australian artists and mentors, Sir Hans Heysen and Ivor Hele. In 1967 and 1968, Hannaford attended the Ballarat Technical Art School, under the control of the School of Mines in Ballarat and from 1969 to 1973 was the winner of the AME Bale Art Scholarship. Hannaford has been at the forefront of contemporary Australian portraiture, winning the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 1990, the Viewer Prize in 1991 and 1998, and as a frequent finalist in the Archibald Prize. Hannaford’s portraits of prominent Australians include former Prime Minister Paul Keating, Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, Dame Joan Sutherland, Lowitja O’Donoghue and Governor-General Sir William Deane. In 2001, he was commissioned to paint the centenary sitting of the Australian Parliament. Hannaford was made an AM in 2014 for his service to the arts.

1. Hill Smith Gallery, ‘My Gallipoli’, exhibition program, 2015.
2. As above.

Robert Hannaford (born 1944),

My Gallipoli (Trenches
), 2015
watercolour and pencil on paper,

My Gallipoli (Field hospital), 2015,
watercolour on paper,

Parliament House Art Collection.

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