Rick Crossland

Twenty four days – Simpson and his donkey

I had it in my head to do this painting of Simpson and his donkey for several years. I deliberately wanted the painting to be ambiguous. Although Simpson must have been well aware of the danger he faced, I like to think he had the occasional moment to have a quick rest in the sun with his donkey in the days before he died. In most of the photos of Simpson he had a smile on his face despite the conditions he worked in. The pair epitomized incredible courage, loyalty, and comradeship.

I have never been to Gallipoli but I’ve seen many photos of the steep eroded gullies. These eroded ochre bleached cliffs, a short distance from my home in Tasmania, have always reminded me of those in the Gallipoli photos. I painted this gully from life (plein air) one evening recently and added my imagined image of Simpson and his donkey.