WW100 – New Zealand's First World War Centenary Programme ran from 2014 to 2019

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'Sand in the Apricot Jam' to be exhibited in Israel during Battle of Beersheba centenary

18 September 2017

One of Rebecca Holden's pieces for Sand in the Apricot Jam

New Zealand artist Rebecca Holden will be exhibiting her First World War commemorative show 'Sand in the Apricot Jam' at the Museum of Rishon LeZion, Israel, from 19 October for 6 months. The exhibition features large-scale painted works representing the New Zealand Mounted Rifles of the First World War.

This exhibition at the Museum of Rishon LeZion represents a unique opportunity for a New Zealand artist, during this First World War centenary period, to honour the men (and their horses) of the NZ Mounted Rifles (NZMR) in the land in which they fought. The aim of 'Sand in the Apricot Jam' visual arts project is to remember and to reflect upon the contribution of the NZMR in the Middle East Campaigns of Sinai and Palestine of the First World War.

Rebecca's grandfather John (Jack) Culleton was a trooper with the 4th Waikato Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment and left with the Expeditionary Forces in 1914. He served with the NZMR at Gallipoli and in the Middle East until 1919 when he was discharged due to malaria. It is this personal connection that was the catalyst for the creation of this body of work.

The NZMR fought predominantly against the Ottoman Army in this campaign. The horsemen of the NZMR were invaluable in the desert campaigns as they could cover greater distances on horseback than infantry could on foot.

'Sand in the Apricot Jam' has toured New Zealand since its first showing at Expressions Whirinaki, Upper Hutt, in 2014, where Rebecca was Artist in Residence. It has been exhibited at the National Army Museum, Waiouru (2016) and the Waikato Museum from March to June 2017.

The project had taken such an incredible journey in New Zealand and in light of this Rebecca recognised what a fitting conclusion it would be, for the exhibitions touring, if she could take the work to Israel too. Especially for the men to be remembered during the centenary of the battles of Beershaba & Ayun Kara this year. Rebecca initiated contact with the municipality of Rishon LeZion and from this received an invitation to exhibit the work at the Museum of Rishon LeZion.

The significance of this invitation reflects the historical connection between New Zealand and Rishon LeZion. The NZMR received a warm reception by the Jewish inhabitants of Rishon LeZion when they liberated the village from the Ottoman Turkish army after the Battle of Ayun Kara. The NZMR returned to camp there on numerous occasions after this event. So in recognition of this connection Rebecca has created a new painting to be exhibited for the first time in Israel along with 3 of the 4 existing works that form 'Sand in the Apricot Jam'.

The exhibition will take place from mid October to the end of November 2017. This scheduling coincides with the centenaries of the Battle of Beersheba, 31 Oct (which is to be honoured by New Zealand and Australia with a commemoration ceremony at Beersheba) and the Battle of Ayun Kara (14 Nov), both within modern-day Israel. The battle near Rishon LeZion, known as The Battle of Ayun Kara, was one of the most significant battles in which the NZMR fought in the Palestine Campaign. The Mounted Rifles lost 50 men in this battle and these losses are represented in the new work by 50 First World War NZ Forces buttons sewn onto the painting's canvas ground.

Further information at https://rebeccaholden.wordpress.com/sand-in-the-apricot-jam/