Title: The Waler's Story
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 25 canvases each 20 x 25 cm
Over 130,000 Australian horses went to WW1. These horses were called ‘Walers’ as they came from New South Wales. Known for their stamina and even temperament by the end of WW1 only 13,000 were still alive; 11,000 were sold to the British army in India and 2000 were ‘cast’.
This series of 25 small canvas paintings are like small grabs of diary entries, musings, of what the life of a waler that went to WW1 might have been like. Many of the paintings are inspired by archival images of horses in WW1. I can only imagine how traumatic the experience must have been for the horses, like the bizarre and frightening process of being loaded onto a ship via a hoist and wearing a gas mask. One of the most difficult things was getting enough water for these horses to drink.
’m influenced by artist, Sidney Nolan, the lone ghost like figure of the soldier that appears throughout the paintings references the figure of Ned Kelly, who is seemingly attached to his horse. I chose to limit the colour palette to blues. The colours reminded me of the water journey, and I couldn’t help but notice the word play also of the word ‘wail’, the blue colours make me think of all the tears I want to cry for these animals caught up in a man’s world.
Rachel studied Sculpture, Performance and Installation Art at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. She completed a Masters of Art Therapy at Edith Cowan University. Jungian principles of active imagination inform her painting practice. Rachel held a solo exhibition at the Vancouver Arts Centre in 2009 and regularly exhibits in group shows. She enjoys a playful, narrative approach to her work.