Yesterday was an extra special ANZAC Day as my brother Laken painted a large mural of Simpson's Donkey at the RSA in Brown's Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.
Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design student Laken Whitecliffe, 20, also son of the college's co-founder Michele, has has swapped his canvas for a concrete wall to paint a giant mural honouring the Anzacs on a 12 metres wide and 6 metres tall mural for the East Coast Bays RSA. RSA member Tom Downey contacted Mr Whitecliffe with the idea earlier this year and says he is hugely impressed with the finished artwork. Mr Whitecliffe, who will be transferring to Montclair State University, New Jersey, in September, says the project has been a big change from his usual forte – portraits. The 20-year-old said the project, which took him six full days to paint, was exciting because he had never attempted something on such a scale or with such historical significance. "The biggest challenge has been getting my head around the scale. Working on a scaffold has also been interesting but it's all good experience," he says. Mr Whitecliffe worked from an old photograph of Simpson and his donkey which hangs inside the RSA but has also drawn on inspiration from the poem The Inquisitive Mind of A Child about the selling of poppies on Anzac Day. "I jumped at that opportunity as both my grandfathers served in the military, on my father's side in the navy and my mother's side in the airforce, so it's been pretty cool to do something that means so much and especially in time for Anzac Day," Mr Whitecliffe says. "The least I could do for all the people who gave their lives and served for the country was to do a painting." He says it has been a rewarding experience with members constantly stopping by to chat to him about his work. "They've all had really positive things to say and it's a nice feeling to do this. But artist Laken Whitecliffe says he purposely changed the face. "But there has been a bit of debate around whether it is actually Simpson or whether it is a man named Henderson," he says. "Either way it represents what both of them did, bringing wounded back from the frontline." Australian soldier John Simpson Kirkpatrick was a stretcher bearer with the Anzacs during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I. In April, 1915 he began evacuating wounded soldiers from the frontline on the back of a donkey. He continued his work, rescuing 300 soldiers, under heavy enemy fire until he was killed in action three weeks later. "That was the other fun thing about this: I had all the veterans come up to me and give me history lessons about Simpson and his donkey. "I know how much this means to the veterans, so I really did this for them," the artist said.
I am a very proud sister. Laken has been working very hard this year on many art projects to save money for New York, he leaves in August to finish his arts degree there! I am jealous but what a great excuse to go overseas :) Well done bro.
I hope you all had a nice day off in the middle of the week and you took a moment to remember those brave soldiers.