Arts & Entertainment

Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I

"577" Writing Home. Henry Charles Marshall (1890-1915). Kensington to Cairo and from Cairo to Gallipoli. Album of photographs (1914-1915).

Before the end of the great war of 1914-1918, the State Library began collecting personal accounts of the battlefields. One hundred years later, Life Interrupted presents these words and images in an exhibition that is poignant, confronting, astounding and sad.

These reminiscences show all the complexities and vagaries of wartime experience. Pictures of smiling young men surrounded by the mysteries of Egypt sit beside stark black and white photos of bodies strewn across the sands of Gallipoli.

Flowered silk postcards, their colours still vibrant, jostle for space next to descriptions of the conflict as ‘a disgrace to Christianity.’

The humour of the troops is displayed in their many sketches and water colours and their courage shown in the restraint and integrity of their journals.

This is an honest attempt to balance a national mythology with a brutal history and an apt commemoration of those whose lives were forever haunted by the horrific war that changed the world. (LR)

Until Sep 21, State Library of NSW, Macquarie St, Sydney, free,

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