ANZAC DAYS: A glimpse into the past

Magnet Galleries ANZAC Days exhibition
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ANZAC DAYS, a photo exhibition dedicated to past ANZAC Day parades, will be taking place at Magnet Galleries until May 25.

The exhibition will feature a collection of photos captured by Colin Abbott at ANZAC Day parades between 1974 and 1981.

Mr Abbott’s interest in photography began when he lived in a Sydney share house in 1972, going on photography trips with housemates who were amateur photographers.

Abbott moved to Melbourne in late 1973. He then began accumulating a portfolio of photographs. His previous attempt at tertiary education had ended in failure so when the Whitlam Government opened education to “older students” he applied to Prahran College, a leading school for photography at that time.

Mr Abbott said he was one of the 23 students selected from around 800 applicants on the strength of his portfolio.

This was when hisinterest in capturing ANZAC Day first started. One of his fellow students suggested visiting the 1974 ANZAC Day parade to capture photos for their portfolios, and Mr Abbott attended the event in the hopes of capturing photos for his collection.

Fifty years later, and he hasn’t looked back. He has since photographed 17 ANZAC Day parades, preserving a slice of history.

For Mr Abbott, ANZAC Day is about the people on the sidelines, whose family members or friends fought in the war. He cited Australia’s losses during and after the war, and its impact on the people then.

 

“For a country to lose 60,000 dead in the war and another 60,000 from injuries before 1925 plus another 100,000 disabled out of a population of only five million, it's pretty hard to conceive about how that affected the country so much, given the war was on the other side of the world,” he said.

 

More than 100 years later, Australians still attend ANZAC Day to honour relatives and friends who have been involved in wars or peace-keeping missions overseas.

Mr Abbott also wanted to preserve a slice of the past, capturing the photos of veterans of wars long past.

“There won’t be too many ANZAC Day marches with veterans from WWII and the Vietnam vets are also getting older,” he said, noting that most veterans from WWI and WWII had since passed on.

Attendees will be able to view a variety of large prints more than 1.5 metres in length, as well as a variety of smaller prints. There will also be a digital display of Abbott’s most recent works from this century.

ANZAC DAYS will run until May 25 at Magnet Galleries, SC G19 Wharf St, The District Docklands.

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