Slouch Hat and Swallows 

Oil on Canvas 

50 X 75cm 


This painting was inspired by a diary entry I came across while researching birdlife at Gallipoli: 


‘Bird and insect life is most interesting here… their presence seems to lessen in some degree the sordidness of war. One feels thankful that, no matter how many guns may be thundering, the noise is never sufficiently loud to drive away the birds.’ Lieutenant W Sorley Brown, 4th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Gallipoli, 6 December 1915. 


I thought of Lt Sorley Brown’s words while watching swallows flying over a neighbour’s farm dam as I painted. The painting is deliberately ambiguous. The shadow of the man on the water and the slouch hat in the mud after a downpour. Is he there to retrieve a dead or injured mates’ hat or, like Sorley Brown, does he find peace in nature that reminds him of home? A bit of beauty, freedom and life, a diversion from miserable circumstances. Two barn swallows, seasonal visitors to this part of the peninsula, have also found this welcome source of water, mud and insects in the dry landscape. The pair and the shadow of the returning soldier epitomize love of country, loyalty, and comradeship.