Local artist donates work to French museum in memory of WWI Second Battle of Bullecourt
  • Wednesday 03 May 2017
garry dolan, bullecourt, regional arts development fund

Today (May 3) marks 100 years since the WWI Second Battle of Bullecourt in France in 1917.

The battle holds a special place in the memory of local artist Garry Dolan, whose wife’s great uncle, Harold Prosser, died in the battle.

“My family has a close connection and emotional tie to the town of Bullecourt,” Mr Dolan said.

“My wife’s great uncle, Thomas Harold Prosser, died there on the first day of the battle on May 3, 1917 and his body was never recovered.”

Garry Dolan specialises in Plein Air painting, or painting outdoors to capture the natural light and atmosphere of a landscape.

In 2014, he was the recipient of a Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grant to assist with the development of his watercolour skills for use in Plein Air painting by participating in a workshop by mentor David Taylor.

“I have been fortunate to visit the WWI battlefields of Northern France a number of times, the most recent being in December 2013,” Mr Dolan said.

“The aim of the visit was to allow me to create sketches and take photos that would enable me to create a series of paintings.

“With the help of the RADF grant, I was able to improve my watercolour skills and create a series of work that tells my story of visiting the Bullecourt battlefield as a place of sacred memory to myself, my family and many other Australians.”

The works Mr Dolan created from this visit were selected for the Of Peace and War exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery in 2014 and are now on show in Bullecourt as a part of the centenary commemorations of the battles.

Mr Dolan was in Bullecourt in April for Anzac Day and set up his easel to paint a scene of the battlefield near the petite cross. 

“I wanted to display my work in Bullecourt to help keep the memory of those that died in the battle alive and in people’s minds,” he said.

“I hate war with a passion, but I wanted to paint these pictures to give people a sense of what these soldiers went through.

“In remembrance of Harold Prosser, I have donated all of my Bullecourt works to the town and the Jean and Denise Letaille WW1 Museum at Bullecourt.”

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said Garry Dolan’s story was a great example of the wonderful outcomes the Regional Arts Development Fund was creating.

“The paintings Garry produced as a result of the RADF grant, the subsequent exhibition at the gallery, and now his selfless donation of the work to the town and museum in Bullecourt, are testament to the lasting benefits the program is delivering to our community and beyond.”

Garry’s story was recently featured in the ABC program Landline. Watch the Landline story from April 23 on ABC iView.

Visit council’s website for more information on the Regional Arts Development Fund or contact the RADF Liaison Officer on 5420 8616.

The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.