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Fury of War under heavy fire

1,500 x 1,500mm


Living beyond the hope you’ll survive

Heart is in mouth;
Sky is on fire;
Heat is unbearable;
Dust is impossible to breathe;
Ringing in my ears is non-stop.
No place to run;
No building strong enough to hide;
No way out for it is all around.

My whole frame shakes
The pounding is relentless
The ground under me quakes
My heart cries for me to find safety
I am too afraid to stay where I am
But no wisdom to know where to go
I am now trembling all over

Luck almost spent
I curse the senders
Unable to return fire
I feel empty
I cannot hear
I am half blind
And I have unknowingly wet myself

Repeated fear makes grim faces;
I shout hope to him standing next to me
And he shouts hope back at me
Neither of us hear a word

Everything is in slow-motion now
Longing for an end – Hell not another moment.
It has been twelve minutes already;
How much longer – I can’t endure another volley.
The foetal position is tempting me;
Determined, I straighten my bones.

Another 2 hours into the night of hell yet to go;
Greater fury is yet to come.
Volley upon volley of katyusha rockets;
Their randomness brings exhaustion.

It all turns as bright as the sun. Boom!
I am violently thrown to the floor.
Half the building we are in has just been blown away;
I can’t see anyone anymore;
I am now alone;
No one left to over-watch.

Furious, I pull myself to my feet;
Determined to make it out to the senders;
Numb, I struggle forward as fast as I can;
My body and my gun weigh a ton.

Weaving through heavily rubbled streets;
Around buildings on their sides;
Swearing at every nearby blast;
Often blown to the ground.

If no one finds me;
Please tell my mother I am sorry I never got to spend time with her;
And tell my wife-to-be that my heart is full of love for her;

God, if you exist, “Where are you?”
I need you now!



The anatomy of the art:
This painting is without a painted border, because when the fury of war is being thrown at you it feels like it is without restraint or end.

The yellow areas on both sides of the painting depict explosions to the left and the right of you, flashed with white means they are nearby – too close for comfort. The large sun-like ball in the upper left corner represents an explosion in a neighbouring building a moment ago; and the one at the bottom right is another explosion hitting the building you are in right now!

The pieces flying through the air, in the middle of the painting, represent the fragments from the previous blast mixing in with the current blast.

The fiery red throughout the painting symbolises all the bravery that one can possibly muster up, moment by moment, only to have the next explosion tear it apart… as can be seen in the large ripping bush strokes in behind the current explosion.

The dark blue brush strokes signify the deep hopes within you, that in some way you will come out of this okay. But, the ever-present darkness that is behind everything represents your constant fear that you won’t.

And, the little bits of dark green in the midst of it all represents when everything around you is a constant threat to your life, your mind starts to drift to life at home when you were a child. However, that soon disappears behind the next blast.

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One of the most the unexplainable things to behold in this world is the fury that nations are prepared to throw at each other in war. It feels like, if they could, they would throw the sun at each other.

Written in the first person on behalf of all those who have been there.
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Two friends fleeing hell

1,500 x 2,120mm


Short Version

Friends forever
Objectively, enlightening each other;
Instinctively, protecting one another;
Together, are liken a hundred bold angels;
Constantly, inserted into hell;
Often, called upon to EXFIL others;
Some friendlies, many hostile;
Always, doing the impossible;
Even facing the unthinkable;
Called beyond measure;
Faithful to the end.

Artist's Full Inspiration:

Brothers forever
Always side by side were we, Andrew and me;
If he looked to our left, I instinctively looked to our right;
If I moved forward, he would automatically protect our back;
Together three and a half years, from our first day, brothers.

Moving between jungle dangers, tree to tree;
Hiding in snow holes, warming each other;
Crossing desert sands, sharing drops of water;
Seldom anywhere in-between, but we met the Queen : )

Andrew called our external numbers, tallying the environment to zero;
My long range in-gun aim was to always call back “Tango Down.” (Target down)
He was as big as a bear, the biggest of us all, and I was smaller than allowed;
Once he effortlessly carried an injured me, over a mile to safety.

Three days ago we started out an eighteen man team, HALO insertion;
Job: Remote exfiltration. Extracting hostages: two males, one female – all friendlies;
Upon making contact, we were savagely discovered;
We are now just 7, with only the female exfil, in two stolen bad-guy’s cars.

2 days later, and after too many Plan B’s (we always hated plan B’s);
We are only 3 miles from a safe-border, when we are set upon for the fifth time;
It’s now down to Andrew and I, on foot, to extract the female exfil;
We quickly scrounge around and pick up what extra resources we can find.

Not far to go now, just through a slight valley, and down over the border;
Halfway, pop, pop pop, three shots hit Andrew, one hard to his right thigh;
He stays in the fight, and together we effectively repel what’s left of them;
I quickly apply a tourniquet, and see to Andrew’s flesh wounds.

I quietly yell at him, “Fuck, I can’t carry you. You are too big;”
He quietly yells back, “You have to get her out, I’ll hold ‘em, you get her out;”
We look into each other’s eyes, and micro-nod three times – both knowing;
I put my hand around his neck, and kiss his forehead.

The female and I quickly press on through to the head of the valley;
I select a clear firing point above the draw;
I set up my bolt-action .50-cal, ranged to 1540 yards;
Only twenty-five rounds left.

10 minutes later, they have reinforcements, and try to rush up the valley twice;
Andrew fought like ten men, throwing everything at them;
I provided selective over-watch, they fall back again, hurting;
I now have only seven rounds left;

There is 15 minutes silence;
Then they start to move up, sneaking rock to rock;
I wait patiently, holding fire, until their boss-man moves;
Six rounds left.

They pull back, another 20 minutes passes;
Suddenly, very suddenly, more than thirty of them rush;
Andrew’s last three grenades go out, followed by his last wild bursts of fire.
I only have time to fire three shots.

Andrew is overrun, they have my mate;
His hands are half up, they are moving in, guns trained on him;
Andrew’s guns are empty, he provokingly draws his knife;
They decline to fire, looking to fully abuse him.

I quickly check that my sight-picture is perfect centre scope;
My legs are spread, to ensure my pulse is equal on both sides;
I relax my last breath, like breathing through a straw;
He holds three fingers in his left hand;

I push three values to the left;
I send the shot, 2.3 seconds travel time;
1 second out, Andrew braces his centre mass;
Knowing, that I would have already sent it.

The perfect shot hits;
My heart screams inside;
Rent by what my eye confirms;
“Alpha Down”.

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He, who was far bigger than me, easily carried injured me to safety when I needed him; The very dynamic that denied me the ability to do the same for him when he so badly needed me; Why is it that the most desperate moments in life are NEVER fair!

The anatomy of the art:
This painting is about the last hours of that day.

Painting without a border, means it is forever.
The two pure white birds symbolise our perfect brotherhood.
The pink tone across the painting is our constant resolve for the female exfil.
And the rough texture through the middle is the harsh environment that the entire exfiltration took place in.
The darkness across the bottom represents the constant threat from the bad guys.
And the ten and a half strong sets of vertical brushstrokes along the bottom of the painting are the most significant active encounters with the enemy, the last half representing cheating them out of having their way with Andrew.

Written in the first person on behalf of all those who have been there.
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Alone

1,500 x 2,120mm


Goodbye my forever friend;
I will always remember us, me and you.

Although my eyes are denied the delight of you;
I hold tight memories that never lose sight of you.

Although I no longer hear your voice, and more;
I keep recalling your smiling face and words more and more.

Although this time there was no return for you;
I am grieving, yet so thankful that I was there for you.

Although I will miss us forever;
I fly on always strong for us forever, and ever.

Alone, together.

Written in the first person on behalf of all those who have been there.
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Flying in above the night

1,500 x 2,678mm


Having to go out again – repeatedly

In life, we all go out into the unknown;
Living within fine lines of hope;
Suspended above the world we are in;
In which everything is so thin.

Looking across at each other;
We are all so tough;
Yet we are all so very fine;
Full of delicateness.

Below there is so much uncertainty;
But we are bold beyond courage;
Using strong lines of bravery;
To stare back the walls of fear.

We are already dead men;
Living our own short-lines of luck;
At our end, we all die alone;
In ways powerless to stop.

There are fine lines between:
Being first responders; to being the last resort;
A rescue mission; and a suicide mission;
From being the hunters; to the hunted;
Between leading out; and being left behind.

And very fine lines between:
Safety; and danger;
Looking out for each other; and feeling alone;
Peace of mind; and memories of what we’ve had to do;
Between staying alive; and not coming home.

Between living in peace; and fighting to protect it.
Then the light turns green;
Every double thought disappears; and resolve locks in;
And out we go again;
Fully committed.

The anatomy of the art:
Painted without borders is representative of how critical activities seem to be without end; in that they roll one into the next.

The backlit background behind the top half of the painting depicts the hope behind everything that drives special people to do the special things that they do.

The blue represents the peacefulness above the night sky; over-brushed with a little royal purple, hints that it is Godlike.

While the black hidden beneath the dark and rough area across the bottom, portrays the threat of death that awaits us all.

The lines scratched across the middle of the painting characterise a fragile aircraft, coming in above the night sky, transporting men ready to jump again into the unknown below.

And the lines that the aircraft itself is made up of: the white, black and the blue; with dangerous red splattered all around, represent all the fine lines between a man’s life and his death – which many of us have had to face thousands of times over.

Written in the first person on behalf of all those who have been there.
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Standing between liberty and terror

1,500 x 3,200mm


Short version:

How shall we paint him?

Shall we paint him dashing into a hail of bullets?
His body full of urgency, with not a moment to spare?

Or as he’s known to all those who fought alongside him?
Without a doubt, the most skillful roving Perimeter Securer of our team?

Or shall we paint all that he stood for, all that was dear to him?
Depicting his loyalty, revealing a resolute defender of freedom?

Or his heart, free of anguish during the most frantic moments?
Full of bravery, braver than brave, unable not to save?

Or shall I paint the relief in his eyes whenever he saw we were safe?
Or shall we paint his eyes that are closed for us all?

One who went into hell and darkness alone?
Like a mighty angel, his life unable to be touched?

Yes, all of these, and so much more, are my vivid memories;
But none like his calm walk into eternity to save me.

Artist's Full Inspiration:

The day I found out what life is

Four years co-operators were we;
War fighters, best buddies from day one.
Caught in a gun fight, more fierce than imaginable;
Losing friends left, right and centre;
All too quickly, remain only Manny and me.

Halfway through the final shootout;
Things weren’t going well for us;
Stuck in a bad situation, were we;
Pinned down under continuous fire;
Running out of ammo, fast.

In-between delivering our last bursts of fire;
Manny scrounged around our fallen friends;
Desperately looking for all the ammo he could find;
Frantically loading what little there was into a second gun;
All the while we fought side-by-side, as smart as we were able.

Both our main guns are now empty;
Then click, click; both our pistols too;
The remaining bad-guys are coming in, fast;
Realising they are upon us, I look into him with anticipation;
Both knowing, now our only hope resides in him and his second gun.

He looked me square in the face;
Smiling big, “I got this one Joe”
Throwing me the second gun;
Picking up his empty one;
Running hard out to the right of me, unbelievably.

He sprinted across the front of them,
Pointing his empty gun at them;
Moving in a threatening manner;
Drawing their fire upon himself;
Causing them to turn away from me.

Resulting in them slightly bunching together;
Opening up just enough headway for me;
Rushing forward, I cut hard into the side of them;
All the while, hearing their bullets whacking into Manny;
It all ending in a sudden eerie silence, full of echoes.

Quickly, ensuring the immediate area was secure;
I dashed back to a very badly mangled and gasping Manny.
Within seconds, Manny died in my arms . . . eye to eye;
Just enough time to hear me cry, “Perimeter Secure”.
Upon which, I saw the beginning of his smile, knowing that I had made it out;
Then I lost him.

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30 seconds later arrived a, sadly delayed, 16-man Quick Reaction Force. The support team, full of experienced men with extra ammo, which we all were longing for 15 minutes ago.

It is not until we have someone knowingly lay down their life for us, do we know what our mundane everyday life is really worth.

There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of Manny;
Seeing my morning face in the mirror;
Getting dressed on my wedding day;
Spending time with family and friends;
In every new person I meet;
And, in everything I do.

It holds me true.
Always will.

And in light of all the Mannys
I for one feel, we all ought to live lives worthy of them saving.


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Courage

1,500 x 3,200mm


This painting is another representation of the same event portrayed in "Standing between liberty and terror", the painting listed before this one.
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The redcross in war

875 x 1,238mm


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The slain soldier’s lover’s heart

1,200 x 1,200mm


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