Image making, nation building: Australia and the First World War

This seminar will present new research by Spiros Zournazis Memorial Fellows at the Australian War Memorial. The fellowship, offered biennially, is an opportunity for early career researchers to investigate the art collection at the Memorial, and encourages interdisciplinary approaches.


Dr Laura Cook is an assistant curator at the National Museum of Australia. Her research interests focus on imperialism and the role of the monarchy in twentieth century Australian social and political history. Laura was recently awarded a PhD from the ANU Research School of Humanities & the Arts for the thesis  ‘The monarchy is more than the monarch: Australian perceptions of the public life of Edward, Prince of Wales, 1916-1936.’ She also holds a Masters degree in museum studies and curatorship. 

Her fellowship research examines images of King George V in the Memorial’s collection and reveals how images of the King were used to enhance pre-existing discourses of patriotic loyalty, as part of a suite of imperial symbols used to legitimise and support Australia’s war effort both at home and on the battlefields. The Memorial’s collections reflect the beginnings of the transformation of the modern monarchy and the foundations for imperial conformity that would extend into the interwar years

Dr Jessica Neath is a researcher and teaching associate at Monash University Fine Arts who is currently working on the ARC Discovery Indigenous project “Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial” with the artist Brook Andrew. Jessica researches at the intersections of visual arts, cultural heritage and the remembrance of traumatic histories. She was awarded a PhD in Art History at Monash University in 2015 for the thesis “The Photography of Empty Lands: Tasmanian History in the art of Ricky Maynard and Anne Ferran.”

Her fellowship research has identified items in the Memorial’s collection that represent war remembrance including pictures of war memorials and gatherings on Anzac Day, and portraits of soldiers. By comparing the interwar period of the 1920s and the later period of the 1980s she is considering how forms of war remembrance have emerged, changed or persisted through their representation in a range of visual mediums. This multifaceted study is designed to reveal counter memories and marginalized experiences and perspectives of war.

Caption: John Henry Chinner, G.R. [King George V], 1918, watercolour, pen & ink on paper, 15 x 10 cm, ART96320 Collection: Australian War Memorial


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