Media release – January 19, 2010
Big New Zealand art exhibition to mark Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy
Selected New Zealand artists will take part in a major Kiwi art exhibition to be held at Cassino in Italy on May 15-29 to commemorate New Zealand’s involvement there 66 years ago.
The event may be the biggest Kiwi art exhibition ever held in Italy. The dates mark the liberation of towns in the area during World War 2. Italian-based Kiwi organiser Kay de Lautour Scott said it was their "busy time" of the year in Cassino with veterans groups, commemoration services and unveiling of new memorials.
The NZ art exhibition will be held in Cassino’s public library in the centre of the town with a formal gala opening on May 15. De Lautour Scott said the exhibition was a way of passing on the message from the veterans of all nations that she meets, that war must end.
``I also see it as a great opportunity for NZ artists to exhibit in Italy; I appreciate that side of it as I had a similar chance in 2005, but more important to me is keeping the peace message alive. I see museums showing the military side of things, but it is the emotional pain and suffering recorded in photographs and told in the stories that touches me most.
``I think that artists have a responsibility to reflect what is happening in society, and in fact they do that whether they are conscious of it or not. Here I live in a country that was destroyed. The battle front stayed in this area for five months. It is unthinkable how the people suffered, and still do live with this history in their daily lives.
``However, the immeasurable, unrecorded history is that of the returned soldiers, the waiting families, the changed lives in far away New Zealand. If giving artists this opportunity gets them talking to their family and friends then I think that the movement towards understanding and peace has already become stronger.
``We see Anzac Day parades growing in strength. I believe the time is right for artists to reinforce the peace messages coming from the soldiers who fought in this battle. To share time with veterans and have them say, often in tears, that it must never happen again, and then to see what is happening still all over the world, leaves me feeling that I must try to do something, however insignificant it might seem.
``If we all do a tiny part in a move towards peace we must eventually reach a tipping point where we can change nations and governments,’’ de Lautour Scott said.
New Zealand Art Guild organiser Sophia Elise said the guild was helping organise artists in New Zealand and they wanted artists who have a connection with Cassino to contact them as first preference selections.