Aye, there’s the rub…of HMAS Albany

Published on Ms Gemma Haines (author), SGT Phil Kafcaloudes (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, NT

Topic(s): Operation RESOLUTE, HMAS Albany (P86), Australian War Memorial

Professor Ian Howard displays his proof of concept for his upcoming artistic piece. He will use wax crayons to get rubbings of the Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory. (photo: SGT Phil Kafcaloudes)
Professor Ian Howard displays his proof of concept for his upcoming artistic piece. He will use wax crayons to get rubbings of the Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany is set be immortalised in art and displayed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Professor Ian Howard from the University of New South Wales’ College of Fine Arts has been commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to create an artwork that portrays the Royal Australian Navy and its role in Operation RESOLUTE, the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to protecting the nation’s borders and offshore maritime interests.

“I often say I’m just a humble landscape painter and I say that with a degree of truth because these are objects within our contemporary landscape,” Professor Howard said.

While a sculpture or painting is what comes to most people’s minds, Professor Howard creates his artworks by placing canvases against his subjects and ‘rubbing’ them with wax and crayon to create a life-sized record.

Professor Ian Howard commences rubbing the starboard side of Armidale Class Patrol Boat onboard HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Professor Ian Howard commences rubbing the starboard side of Armidale Class Patrol Boat onboard HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Not exactly the easiest task when an Armidale Class Patrol Boat is involved.

“It’s usually pretty dramatic, because people come into the gallery and see big drawings and a big rubbing and they think ‘what on earth is this?’” Professor Howard said.

After taping large sheets of canvas to the side of Albany, when the vessel was alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Professor Howard spent several hours completing his rubbings using pigmented wax crayons.

The Commanding Officer of Albany’s current crew, AWARE TWO, Lieutenant Commander Roger Knights said the request was one of the more unusual ones he’d received, and that he planned to be one of the first in line to see Albany in all her artistic glory.

“It's a snapshot in time of the patrol boat fleet,” Lieutenant Commander Knights said.

“The job we're doing up here in the north is extremely important,” he said.

Professor Ian Howard and members of AWARE TWO work together on the artistic rubbings of Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Professor Ian Howard and members of AWARE TWO work together on the artistic rubbings of Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Albany alongside HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin, Northern Territory.

With his rubbings of both Albany and a foreign fishing vessel in hand, Professor Howard will now return to his Sydney art studio, where he’ll complete his final masterpiece.

The artist said he hoped to complete the artwork by September this year, when it will be handed over to the Australian War Memorial.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20141409.