“I doubt PTSD was ever a thing diagnosed in his day, they just got on with it,” he said. “Ray’s room was a refuge for Ray but also represents the trauma for all the fellas like him, veterans who had to come home and keep fighting.”
“In recent times, it has been recognised that the treatment of our returned service personnel is a national disgrace. The Royal Commission of 2022 is only the first step in finally providing the support that our veterans justly deserve.”
Tomkins used ink, enamel aerosol, and pigment on polyester, the same sort of drafting paper he would use with his father and grandfather in their building business to create the work.
“Banksy will cut a stencil to create his street art on a wall, but in this piece the artwork is the stencil I used to create the red curtain and carpet in Ray’s room, where the door was rarely open, the bed was always made, and the room was always dark.”
Tomkins, a licensed builder by trade, started painting at age 12 and has studied at the Julian Ashton School of Art. He still lives in Strathfield, a few hundred metres from Ray’s room, in what was his grandparents’ home.
He has been a finalist in the Gallipoli Art Prize four times and was Highly Commended by judges in 2021 for his work The Guns Fell Silent recounting the story of his Scottish mother who was based on the anti-aircraft guns overlooking the English Channel on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
The 2023 Gallipoli Art Prize judges highly commended Richard Crossland for his oil painting 24
Days, Simpson and his donkey that depicts Private Simpson, who came to fame at Gallipoli for
rescuing wounded men with a donkey.
Now in its 18th year, the Gallipoli Art Prize invites artists to respond openly to the broad
themes of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage, comradeship, community, peace and
freedom as expressed in the Gallipoli Memorial Club’s creed.
Previous winners of the Gallipoli Art Prize include renowned artists Euan Macleod (2009), Idris Murphy (2014) Steven Lopes (2018) and Deidre Bean (2022). The show will be on exhibition at 6-8 Atherden Street, The Rocks until May 14.
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