A visual arts exhibition by artist Rebecca Holden acknowledging the role of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the Middle East.
Sand in the Apricot Jam is a visual arts project aimed at acknowledging the role of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the First World War. This visual arts project was first exhibited at Expressions Art Centre in Upper Hutt in 2014, where Rebecca created the majority of the artwork on site.
The intention of the onsite project and resulting exhibition was to be as inclusive of the local community as possible – from the local owners of horses who allowed Rebecca to sketch their horses, to young men who volunteered to pose for the painting, from the visitors to the gallery who came in to discuss the art work and share their own family stories with the artist, and to the school groups that visited and who then created their own work of art in response to this project.
The theme of the work looks at the role of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the Middle East Campaign, as well as their contribution at Gallipoli. Rebecca's grandfather served with the Auckland Mounted Rifles and was wounded at Gallipoli. He returned to serve with his regiment in the Sinai and Palestine until the end of the war.
The work is comprised of four large scale panels each spanning 3 metres horizontally. Each representing a different aspect of the desert campaign.
The progress of the artwork and notes relating to the research around this project are featured on Rebecca's blog.
Sand in the Apricot Jam' has toured NZ since it's 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.
Taking Sand in the Apricot Jam to Israel
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 (2017). 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 a new work, created especially for the exhibition in Rishon LeZion, by 50 WW1 NZ Forces buttons sewn onto the new painting's canvas ground.
Getting the exhibition to Israel was made possible by the generous support of people who contributed to Rebecca's crowd funding campaign through PledgeMe and to those who spread the word about it. Rebecca is enormously grateful to this community of people who believed in her and the relevance of this project.