"Proof of Gratitude" is my gold award winning print from the 2015 Epson/NZIPP Iris awards. For a few years I have been wanting to assemble an image about my thoughts on the Centenary of World War I, particularly the sacrifices from rural parts of New Zealand. Every element that I have included in this image has meaning for me.
The memorial arch I have used as a "frame" is from the Hills Creek Cemetery in Oturehua, Central Otago. I thought long and hard about including the names on the archway but without the names it just didn't look right and my partner (and creative consultant!) agreed and suggested that it lacked meaning without them. The idea of using the arch to frame a significant landscape and then adding a further border (barbed wire) came from looking at old postage stamps.
The landscape is Mount Kyeburn which has special significance to many people living in the Maniototo. Some of the area surrounding the mountain, after World War I, was part of the soldiers settlement. The 'Soldiers Syndicate' was formed by cutting off just over 8000ha from Kyeburn Station. The idea for the title came from a PHD thesis about soldier land settlement in New Zealand after World War I authored by Ashley Gould.
The barbed wire border represents farming and the soldiers from rural areas but could be seen as more of an image from the battle field itself, some judges at the Iris awards chose to view it this way. Additional elements I have included are seven crosses, one for each soldier that was killed in action. The Cananda Geese which are long time residents of the Maniototo are known for working together on their long distance migratory flights and have also included some background texture made out of Central Otago grasses and tussocks around the edge of the frame.