Art After Afghanistan – Archibald Prize Winner Ben Quilty Visits with Year 11 and 12

Last week, Year 11 and 12 students had the privilege of hearing from one of Australia’s leading artists and Archibald Prize Winner, Mr Ben Quilty. In an intimate and moving discussion, Quilty spoke to students of his life, inspiration, and in particular, his visit to Afghanistan as an Official War Artist for the Australian War Memorial. Students in Year 11 Standard English have been studying his art in relation to their unit of work on war poetry and Year 12 Art focus on him as a case study for their HSC.

“It was an amazing opportunity for students to listen to an artist of Ben’s calibre. He was very generous with the time he spent answering questions and was very open about the experiences which inform his art,” said Mr Ramm, who was still recovering from Ben’s comments about the visual function of ties.

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Quilty’s art tackles issues surrounding masculinity in our society.  He provides a confronting commentary on the experiences of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder experienced by returning soldiers, and sees it as his responsibility to share their stories. He is also involved in the current debate regarding historical sculptures and the way in which they edit history.

“I was struck by his comment on young soldiers: we never hear their story, but they are fighting our war.” Jacob Bailey

“Quilty expresses the emotions of the soldiers in a raw and confronting way.” Brandon O’Donnell

“I liked the way that he is so real, so down to earth.” Henrietta Kamara

Quilty has exhibited all around the world after winning the Archibald Prize in 2011. He is regularly published for his views on Australian society and makes frequent guest appearances on the ABC.

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