The Tears of Atatürk

Oil on Canvas

Painting The Tears of Ataturk has been a lesson in history. As I searched for a subject; I wanted to explore the character of the commanders, and I was interested to know about the ‘enemy’. I had absolutely no idea who Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was.

The Anzac withdrawal at Gallipoli was in the face of formidable oppositional Ottoman forces led by Ataturk. A brave noble man with strong convictions, a fearless adversary, brilliant strategist and nationalist. A man who had the full respect of the troops under his command and who went on to become known as ‘Ataturk’; Father of the Turks, and spearhead as President, the Turkish Republican People’s Party. Invoking the modernist principles of republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism and the advance of revolution.

As I painted, I learnt of the huge battles, the losses and the scars. Of the terrain, difficult and unforgiving and of those same battlefields which the yield the red poppies and fragrant rosemary which we wear in remembrance of Gallipoli. Lest we forget.

Inspired by a wartime Afghan rug; I worked symbols into a traditional Turkish carpet including, The Dove of Peace, hard won, the Zenith watch, which saved Ataturk from shrapnel, and the Anzac flag; the last removed and signed by Commander Sir William Ridell Birdwood.