Monday, 9 April 2007

"George Lambert's work in Gallipoli and Palestine is part of our psyche," reads the kicker to an article by John Stapleton in The Australian today.

Similar guff is visible in The Australian Womens Weekly this month, where the kicker to an article by Susan Duncan reads: "A trip to Gallipoli in Turkey for the Anzac Day service is an unforgettable and poignant reminder of the frailty and courage of the human spirit, and what it is to be an Australian."

This picture is typical of the brainless nationalism being spruiked by the country's largest-circulation magazine. It's disgraceful. Duncan idolises "those freckly-faced skinny young soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps" who "forged a new spirit". "A spirit that is uniquely Australian."

Hardly. It is common to anyone who has decided to relinquish imagination and real enquiry for the bland ignorance of nationalism.

But George Lambert's new exhibition (Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 30 March to 29 July) is worth taking the time to see. It contains works that "have rarely been seen by the public and never as part of a single exhibition".

Interestingly, the museum has published a blog to promote the event. For those interested in seeing how Australia participated in Europe's colonial strategy in the early decades of the last century, I would recommend a visit to Canberra. I will try to get down there in the next few months. It's only a four-hour drive from Sydney and, now that the highway is dual-carriageway for the entire distance, relatively risk-free.

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