Artist Profile
Your friend the enemy

Your Friend The Enemy


Your Friend the Enemy features artworks by 16 significant Australian and New Zealand contemporary artists and commemorates the ANZAC legend and the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign. It originates from a series of letters written by Idris Charles Pike, the grandfather of well-known painter and participant in this project, Idris Murphy. The letters, sent by Pike from the trenches of Gallipoli to his sweetheart, have only recently come to light after nearly 100 years hidden from view.

In the letters, Pike wrote about the closeness of the Turkish trenches, described the traffic of goods between the Australians, New Zealanders and Turks, and bore witness to an extraordinary relationship between enemies. He documented how the Turks would haul tobacco and papers over no-mans-land into the ANZAC trenches in exchange for biscuits and jam. On one particular occasion, the Turks politely wrote a note in French thanking the Australians for the goods, signing off “from your friend, the enemy”.

Between 2014 and 2018 Australia and New Zealand will commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, marking 100 years since our involvement in the First World War. The ANZAC Centenary provides us with an opportunity to remember those who have fought and served in all wars, conflicts and peace operations and especially remember the more than 102,000 people who have given their lives in service.

Invited artists, filmmakers, historians and writers travelled to Turkey in April and May 2014 on a painting and research expedition, concentrating on Istanbul and Gallipoli. The material produced, documented and written on the trip is informing a large touring exhibition, a documentary film and nationally distributed publication, as well as this blog. The travellers were led in Turkey by historian, Dr Brad Manera, the Executive Manager of the NSW ANZAC Memorial. Manera provided the artists and writers a direct account of the history and conflicts at significant sites on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The exhibition will launch with concurrent exhibitions at Sydney’s S. H. Ervin Gallery (curated by John McDonald) and the ANU Drill Hall Gallery (curated by Terence Maloon). The exhibition will then tour to venues including Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Auckland City Art Gallery and other venues throughout 2015-16. A special edition one-shot edition of Artist Profile will exclusively document the exhibition, following the artists from the field and back into their studios to make the work. The Special Edition will be guest edited by John McDonald who accompanied the artists on tour.

Participating artists:

Deirdre Bean • Elisabeth Cummings • Steve Lopes • Guy Maestri • Euan Macleod • Idris Murphy • Michael Nock • Peter O’Doherty • Susan O’Doherty • Stanley Palmer • Amanda Penrose Hart • Leo Robba • Luke Sciberras • Michael Shepherd • Jonathan Throsby • John Walsh


Photograph: Robert Linnegar, 2014