Servicing An R.A.A.F. Hudson Bomber, Northern Territory 1943 

Oil on canvas 

152 x 122cm 


This work pays homage to the skilled Australian war photographers of WWI and WWII. 

Also coming to mind is my maternal grandfather, Charles Carey McPhee, who, after serving as a chaplain on the Western Front in WWI, facilitated entertainment for the troops in Darwin in WWII. 

The painting is inspired by an orphaned image (photographer unknown) from the Bruce Howard Nostalgic Australian Photographs collection of the National Library of Australia. 

The original photograph (23.8 x 20.4cm) is a silver gelatin print, which typically has tonal contrasts and deep darks. I used dark, warm tones combined with Payne’s grey to create unity and warmth. Layering of glazes over paint and wiping back with rags were techniques I used. 

By using a larger scale, and simplifying, I concentrated on the symbolism rather than realism of servicemen involved in a common task. In a tropical setting, all is partly camouflaged by greenery. In this composition, everything radiates from the central void and propellors.  

The subject of the piece draws an empathetic response.