Article in the Canberra Times…
It’s been all systems go lately for Canberra artist Margaret Hadfield and historian Dr Kathryn Spurling, who are now being dubbed – what else but?- The Artist and The Historian.
They are also proving age is no barrier to creativity. One is “over 60” and the other is “over 70”. They’re not letting on who is who.
They have been long-time collaborators, but 2021 is proving to be particularly productive – with even a film of their endeavours completed and selected for showing at a short film festival in the United States.
In 2019, the pair opened a new art gallery, The Artists Shed, in Fyshwick, celebrating their “mutual love of art, history and the underdog”.
Spurling and Hadfield had already collaborated before then.
For her book Inspiring Australian Women, Spurlinginterviewed Helen Reddy, Natasha Stott Despoja, Matilda House, Geraldine Cox, Fiona Wood and Lauren Jackson, over four years. Each of the women then sat for Hadfield and their portraits were included in the book.
Their creative endeavours are continuing to be recognised.
Margaret Hadfield been named a finalist in The Gallipoli Art Prize with painting of Canberra veteran, Anthony John. Picture: Supplied
Hadfield has again been named a finalist in The Gallipoli Art Prize. She was the inaugural winner in 2006 and has also been finalist numerous times, with The Gallipoli Legion Club purchasing several her paintings.
This year, her painting is of Canberra veteran, Anthony John. His grandfather served with the Australian Army during WWII, and his father won a Military Cross during the Vietnam war.
“AJ” had a distinguished SAS career, including in Afghanistan. The 58-year-old has Parkinson’s disease and, like many ADF veterans, suffers from service injuries. Hadfield’s artwork is called Duty Done. The winner of the Gallipoli Art Prize will be announced on Wednesday, in the lead up to Anzac Day. The finalists’ works will be on exhibition at Merrylands RSL in Sydney from April 15 to May 17. A virtual exhibition will be available through www.gallipoliclub.com.au
Dr Kathryn Spurling and Margaret Hadfield’s installation The Industry of War was selected for the Lake Light Sculpture festival on the shores of Lake Jindabyne over Easter. Picture: Supplied
Spurling, herself an ADF veteran and war widow, is also the author of several military history books, two of which have included Hadfield’s artwork.
“Margaret and I both like to feature the human face of war and the legacy left by service and sacrifice,” she said.
The pair highlighted this in the form of an installation, The Industry of War, which was selected for the Lake Light Sculpture festival to be displayed on the shores of Lake Jindabyne over Easter.
“Although we did not win a prize, we were one of 140 sculptures and installations which featured around the lake walk way through Easter to huge crowds, which was rather exciting,” Spurling said.
And it doesn’t end there.
AllyCat Productions, a small, independent Canberra-based film production company, has also been filming the pair for its short film The Artist and The Historian.
Billed as a documentary about two women’s response to the legacy of war, The Artist and The Historian was this week selected for The NewsFest film Festival in Las Vegas, which focuses on news, documentaries and films or other works based on true stories.
The filmmaker at AllyCat Productions is Judith Peterson, a social worker and celebrant who self-funds her films.
She said it was “a thrill” to have The Artist and The Historian accepted into NewsFest.
“It’s not easy to get into film festivals, especially in the States,” she said.
Peterson said she was drawn to Kathryn Spurling and Margaret Hadfield because they were passionate about what they did and “very easy to watch”.
“They want to get their stories out and stories are who we are,” she said.