Victory in the Pacific: war and art – symposium

Victory in the Pacific symposium banner

“Fellow citizens, the war is over … Let us remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may look forward to a peace which they have won for us.”
      Prime Minister Ben Chifley, 15 August 1945

Three months after Hitler’s death and the collapse of Nazi Germany in May 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies and the Second World War finally came to an end. Almost 40,000 Australians had died and some 30,000 had suffered as prisoners of war. During 1945 Australian forces were more heavily committed overseas than at any other time during the conflict.

The war was a defining event in Australian history. Prominent Australian artists such as Sidney Nolan, Nora Heysen, Frank Hinder, Joy Hester, and Albert Tucker responded to the changing world in a wide variety of ways.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in the Pacific, and in conjunction with the Memorial’s new exhibition Reality in flames and the publication of The Changi book, a special one-day symposium will be held on 15 August 2015. Join leading military and art historians as they consider the experiences of Australians in the war in the Pacific as well as the artistic and creative responses to the Second World War.


Morning Session 10.15-11.50 am

Session 1: The creative response to the Second World War in the Australia

10.15 am Welcome: Dr Brendan Nelson
Director of the Australian War Memorial

10.30 am  Keynote: Scott Bevan (Journalist and author, Battle lines: Australian artists at war)
Reflecting on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of VP Day, and responding to the work of visual artists during the Second World War.

11.20 am Warwick Heywood (Australian War Memorial) 
Curating Reality in flames: modern Australian art and the Second World War

Wreathlaying ceremony 12 pm

Wreathlaying commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory in Pacific and the end of the Second World War

Afternoon session 1.30-3.30 pm

Session 2: Australia and the Pacific in the Second World War

1.30 pm Dr Peter Dean, (Australian National University)
Australia’s final military campaigns and the Allied victory in the Pacific.

2 pm Dr Catherine Speck (University of Adelaide)

Nora Heysen as official war artist in Papua and New Guinea.

2.30 pm Dr Lachlan Grant (Australian War Memorial)
Changi and the Australian experience of the Pacific.

3 pm Dr Karl James (Australian War Memorial)
The Second World War and its shaping of modern Australia.

Last Post Ceremony 4.45 pm

Other events on the day include:

9.00 am: Installation Ha-go light tank. For one day only the Ha-go will be out of storage and on display outside the main building.
More information about the Ha-go... .

12 noon: Victory in the Pacific Day wreathlaying ceremony. A special ceremony will be held in the Western Courtyard. All are welcombe to attend.

4.45 pm: Last Post Ceremony, 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Pacific. The ceremony will feature the story of Flight Lieutenant William Ellis Newton.