Home' Army News : March 31st 2011 Contents The Master of Systems Engineering (MSysEng) at the University of New South Wales
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Army March 31, 2011
MANY people answer the call
to be a soldier, but very few
turn soldiering into an art.
Pte Phillip Johns is one of
The Cairns-based reserve infantry-
man from 31/42RQR is deployed in East
Timor with the International Stabilisation
Force's Anzac Coy.
In civilian life, Pte Johns is an artist
and runs a collective studio called Crate
59 that exhibits contemporary artworks.
Having been an artist for as long as
he can remember, at the age of 33 he
decided to join the ARes to work towards
fulfilling two long-held dreams.
"I had always wanted to join the
Army and didn't want to wait until I got
too old," he said.
"I also wanted to try my hand as a
war artist, like those who inspired me,
such as Sir John Longstaff and Russell
Pte Johns is using the quiet time on
his deployment to prepare for works
of art he will create on his return to
"I've been collecting photos and
doing sketches so when I get back home
I can work on material that might be
considered by the Australian War
Memorial," he said.
"I'll try to concentrate on the things
we did here, the stuff soldiers do.
"There's been a lot of mundane stuff,
and then there's the patrols out to places
like Balibo, which is special because of
its ties with Australia.
Working with pencils and acrylics
while in East Timor, Pte Johns supple-
ments his research with photography.
"I'm always taking photos of my
mates, trying to capture them in unguard-
ed moments, so I can show them as they
are," he said.
"I want to show them in the quieter
moments that diggers share.
"A lot of war artists have concen-
trated on heroic scenes of battles, but sol-
diers spend so much more of their time
doing the everyday things.
"Not enough of that has been record-
ed, the banter and the larrikinism that
"That's what defines the Australian
soldier, and I hope I can bring that out in
Drawing on soldier skills
A part-time soldier deployed to East Timor is
chronicling his unit's tour of duty with artworks,
Capt Cameron Jamieson reports.
War artist: Pte Phillip Johns works on preliminary sketches for future major artworks in his spare time
while deployed to East Timor. Inset: He hopes to show Australian soldiers in quieter, unguarded moments.
Photos by LAC Leigh Cameron
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