IT was an impressed crowd of over 100 people which gathered in the Delegate School of Arts on Saturday for the Anzac Portrait Series Exhibition brought to town by talented artist, Wayne Dowsent.
Wayne returned to Delegate after visiting the area earlier this year to interview two men as part of his project to depict WWII veterans in both portraiture and video.
A very fine selection of works from the project were displayed in Delegate on Saturday, with much interest being shown in the portrait of George ‘Curly’ Taylor, well known and loved in Delegate.
With 97 year old Curly regrettably unable to attend, a special feature of the day was the unveiling of the portrait of Bendoc veteran, Keith Bent, who had also been interviewed and painted by Wayne.
Keith and his wife Dulcie were guests of honour for the unveiling of course, and they had many friends present for the moving occasion.
President of the School of Arts Committee, Terry O’Hagan, welcomed the gathering, saying how honoured Delegate was to be the very first place where all 13 portraits have been exhibited.
Wayne’s wife, Jacqui then thanked all involved, giving special mention to
Sandra O’Hagan and Doreen Standen of the School of Arts Committee.
Wayne himself gave some background to the exhibition, explaining that painting Jacqui’s elderly father shortly before he passed away had sparked off an interest in interviewing as many WWII veterans as possible to preserve their legacy for future generations.
Wayne explained that his aim is to have the exhibition travel around many country towns, with Delegate the first, while he continues to paint veterans and add to the collection.
With the big time having come, Wayne surprised Sandra by having her assist in unveiling the much anticipated portrait of Keith, a moving moment that saw many shed a tear.
“I watched Keith’s face, and it was just beautiful the way he smiled,” Sandra said later. “I felt so honoured to help unveil the painting.”
The portrait shows Keith wearing his medals, and on the cabinet next to him is a photograph of his late daughter, Mareeta, in her nurse’s uniform. Nearby are a set of spurs that belonged to the man who encouraged Keith to join the Light Horse.
After the unveiling, Keith thanked Wayne and Jacqui and said how proud and thrilled he was with the portrait, presenting them each with a gift as a token of appreciation from himself and Dulcie.
Keith then drew the School of Arts raffle, and the lucky winner of a beautiful oil painting donated by Wayne was a delighted Denise Nichols of Bendoc.
With the formal proceedings concluded, all continued to admire the portraits, as well as a slideshow of the veteran interviews and photos playing on a large screen to music from the war years.
The gathering also enjoyed a wonderful spread of refreshments, and most took the opportunity to speak with Wayne and Jaqui.
Wayne received a huge number of compliments on his portraits, with all expressing how very lifelike they are, and many commenting that the artist had captured the souls of the veterans in their eyes.
And while the exhibition has now moved on, its legacy will remain in the area, with framed photos of Keith and Curly’s portraits both set to hang in the War Museum in Delegate.
Wayne also very kindly gave Keith and Curly smaller paintings of their younger selves in their uniforms to keep, and he will do this for all of the veterans included in the collection