WARSHIP – the Glorious Decline of the Officers’ Library
22 October – 2 December 2018

The John Curtin Gallery will mark the 100thanniversary of Armistice Day 1918 with the presentation of Warship, a large-scale 14 metre long installation by acclaimed WA artist Jo Darbyshire.  The installation, in the shape of the AE1 – the first Australian Submarine which was laid down in 1911 – is constructed from over 300 book covers recovered from a disbanded library.

The installation is about memory, the act of forgetting and remembering, but it also explores the aesthetics and provenance of the book covers, highlighting the absorbing titles and the texture and colours of the linen cloth that speak so resonantly of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. The artist draws attention to the books as loaded objects: being both visually and historically intriguing, and explores contemporary connections to the experience of being human and our tendency to forget.

John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm said the Gallery was proud to be a part of this significant anniversary.

“It is poignant that most of the books used in the installation consider the extremes of human experience, written by individuals with personal knowledge of war and its aftermath,” Mr Malcolm said.

“These books about the past have a haunting resonance given recent heightened nuclear tensions between North Korea and the USA.”

The elements of an archival system are also visible in labels and handwritten catalogue numbers. Other marks show the signs of use: of being held and handled, of being considered and valued. In their materiality they tell a story that cannot be told in the same way by digital media. The book itself is a form of collective remembering, as the many who handle and read it add to its wear and tear; and like an aged body, this encourages an attitude of respect and empathy.

The installation will be shown alongside historical material concerning the AE1 submarine which was sunk off New Guinea in 1914 while on patrol with 35 crew after only 7 months service.

It was rediscovered in 2017 and the Curtin HIVE is currently working on a 3D reconstruction of the wreck site.

Darbyshire is artist, curator and Curtin University graduate. Her practice spans over 30 years, during which time she has undertaken numerous public art commissions and been involved in solo and group exhibitions.  Her work is held in many private and public collections around Australia.

22 October – 2 December 2018

This exhibit, held in cooperation with the Australian National Maritime Museum, examines the loss of Australia’s first submarine in September 1914, recounts the discovery of the wreck of HMAS AE1in December 2017, and reveals its fate based on the results of an expedition conducted in April 2018.