Ode to Olly

Enamel on Brass/Mixed Media
65 x 95cm

Ode to Olly is an exploration of my family history and our ties to the Australian Imperial Force. Like many people, I have grown up hearing bits and pieces about relatives that fought for our country. Oliver Frank McCarthy, my great-great uncle, was one of these people to me. I collected a patchwork of stories through records, letters and stories passed through generations. In gathering this information I was able to trace his life movements. He left home at 18 to fight at Gallipoli, where he was injured and discharged. He then re-enlisted and fought at Bullecourt, where he was killed in battle. By connecting fragments of his story I felt tethered to him and took this opportunity to reflect his story through this project.

Ode to Olly draws on my family’s memory and research to build a portrait through his possessions. Using goods and objects from the time, I have built a visual map of this young man going off to war. The objects carry energy and are able to tell a story about a time and place that he was experiencing. It explores how people are remembered and what we can tell of a person through their possessions.