Lisa Sewards Pigeons Mar 2015 shadow2

Tribute: War Pigeons
individual works on paper, framed, each 15x21cm etchings, monotypes, drypoints, and ink


45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000

Opening Tuesday May 12th 2015
Opening Speaker Dr Julie Cotter

Artist talk 2pm Saturday May 16th

Exhibition runs May 12th – 30th, 2015

Please download the Exhibition Information Catalogue here

2,175 days, the woods are silent (detail) mixed media on archival cotton rag BFK Rives 300gsm

2,175 days, the woods are silent (detail)mixed media on archival cotton rag BFK Rives 300gsm

drop with border

Drop Chute II
archival digital print on BFK Rives 300gsm

White Vision mixed media on BFK Rives 300gsm

White Vision
mixed media on BFK Rives 300gsm



Artist Statement

by Lisa Sewards

Pigeon, etching, limited edition

etching, limited edition

This body of work is an extension of my White Parachute exhibition held at fortyfivedownstairs in July 2013. Consistent with the theme of my White Parachute exhibition, these new works included in “Flight from Silence” also draw on memories during wartime.

My focus however has now shifted from the personal human element to a group of little-known heroes of the war, that is the homing Pigeons of Europe and Australia.

These birds have a long history of service during wartime action, as far back as when news of Napoleon’s defeat reached England by carrier Pigeon well before horsemen arrived. Thus the call up of the Pigeons as a pivotal point in the reflections of war should not be surprising.


The Recipients (detail)
etchings, drypoints, monoprints

The story of War Pigeons and in particular the subjects of my new body of work, being the 32 Pigeons awarded medal for WW2 service, is one of remarkable bravery, with their delivered messages contributing towards saving countless lives during WW2.

Always interested in the symbolic power of birds, my interest led to research into the thirty-two Pigeons, which form the focus of my current works. Two of these are Australian, they have been taxidermied, and they currently reside at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

I have attempted to poetically yet playfully recapture their unique names, service numbers and stories within a wide range of mediums including paintings and works on paper that incorporate contemporary and traditional printmaking applications … images in which these medal recipients and the elements of this historic period co-exist.


objects on display
drop parachute, leg capsule, Dickin medal photograph

The large scaled paintings reflect the vast night skies that the Pigeons crossed. These make a stark contrast to the works on paper, of silent and cold forest imagery; forests from where and into which they made their daring journeys. To honour these little creatures, small individual etchings, drypoints and monoprints, form a heroic tribute wall.

The use of Drop Parachutes is to acknowledge their importance in combination with the Pigeons. They were used in WW2 to deliver items such as medical supplies and mail, and some Pigeons made landfall via such transport. In the installation of vintage drop parachutes the avian and wartime experience of flight, risk and valour subtly converge.


Exhibition in situ

in situ 2 crop in situ 1 crop in situ 4 in situ 3
in situ 5 in situ 6 in situ 7 in situ 8 border

photographs taken in situ by Owen Bowditch Photography