A GUT feeling that sent Tammie Kite from her tour bus back to the book containing names of buried foreign soldiers in French soil has resulted in an exhibition that will be on display at Backspace Gallery. The exhibition is a collaboration between herself and her mother, Carol. Titled Between Lines it will be on display from 7 April 1 May 2016 and is inspired by the World War I letters and photos sent home from Ballarat brothers, Hector, Stanley and Les Close. About 5 years ago Tammie was in France on an Anzac tour when she came across a grave at a dawn service in Villers-Bretonneux. “By this stage you have been to about 16 gravesites and I couldn’t be bothered looking at books because there were people everywhere so I was having a wander around and as I was coming back I was passing the book and there were no people it previously had so many peo0pel crowded around it and I passed and went to the bus and something was ‘nah, go back’,” Tammie explained. “So I was flicking through and looking for ‘Kite’ which is my surname and ‘Close’ which is my mother’s maiden name and I just came across Hector Norman Close, and my uncle is Stanley Norman Close – that’s a bit weird – so I went back and photographed the grave and it’s been a five year research program of mine.”
Tammie’s relentless research didn’t stop until she had uncovered as much information as she could. “This is the side of the family that had lost a lot of contact with, I started finding photographs and found out Hector was blind in one eye and he’d been sent white feathers because he should have been going off to war and people hadn’t realised he had been trying, he ended up learning the eye chart so he could make it in,” she said. “It’s still a project that is developing in a way and so it’s sort of nice being able to explore this familial story with mum now.”
The other part of the exhibition, which carol and Tammie are excited about, is the participation of the community who will be able to participate in Postcards from the Front. “Postal cards were a universal medium of communication at a time when the only avenues of mass communication were printed newspapers, journals, books and posters,” Carol said.
“Postcards were an inexpensive way to send a quick thought home to a loved one. Postcards from the Front invites participants to create a handwritten postcard that describes their family’s involvement in WW1 or details a personal reflection on what WW1 means to them.
“People will come into the gallery and we will have some archival paper because we want to do the project together and continue it on and maybe donate it to the State Library or the Library of Ballarat, so we are wanting people to bring some fairly good copies of photographs, photocopies of letters or write a few words, it’s up to them but resources will be available at the gallery to do that.” These will form a larger installation curated by the artists and be on display throughout the exhibition. Tammie added that she has also been looking at animals and their contribution in war.
“On Saturday16 April we will celebrate a “Dogs in War” event where dogs and dog owners are welcomed into the gallery to celebrate the contribution and sacrifice animals made in WW1. We will be wearing the purple poppy that is symbolic of the role animals continue to have in the Australian Armed Forces,” she said.