As the now former Commandant of Army Training and Logistics Centre (ALTC) Colonel Clare Kellaway said farewell at the end of last year, she left behind a profound and heartfelt gift for the officers’ mess.
Colonel Kellaway unveiled a painting titled ALTC officer during the Battle of Lockdown – Your House, 2020/21 by Napier Waller Art Prize winner Major Anneke Jamieson.
“The idea of a portrait that captured the time of COVID came about when I saw Anneke Jamieson’s incredible portrait The Promotion,which depicts a servicewoman in uniform breastfeeding her baby, and is dedicated ‘to the mothers that serve: to their sacrifices and conflicted hearts and the families that support them’,” Colonel Kellaway said.
“The portrait resonated with me personally, having grappled with motherhood and military service over the past nine years.
“I connected with Anneke and she was excited about the commission of a portrait that captured the domestic challenges of COVID.
“The portrait speaks to men, women and families who all just had to do the best they could, lockdown after lockdown, to keep our training pipeline going, which they did.”
Major Jamieson said her work was a contemporary reimagining of the “generals’ portraits of old”, meant to highlight the nearly impossible challenges COVID-19 presented.
A demanding job, border restrictions, home schooling and mental health all vied for the figurative officer’s full attention, yet the subject of the painting perseveres with a smile, simply because she has no other option.
“Maybe she will be a tribute to what was achieved, saved, reimagined and learned at ALTC during that time,” Major Jamieson said.
Colonel Kellaway, a mother of three boys, said she related to the painting.
“When I think about my own experience of lockdown, I try to focus on the times that were spent within a five-kilometre radius, out in nature, with my boys,” she said.
“The conference calls gone terribly wrong as kids hit the mute button, or the challenges of keeping school on track are less important.
“We managed to get the important things done both work wise and family wise and came out smiling, just, which is just like the officer in this portrait.”
Colonel Kellaway served at ALTC from 2017 to 2022. She said, in gifting the portrait to the officers’ mess, she wanted to recognise the challenges of 2020 to now, while reviving a fading tradition within Defence culture.
“The officers’ mess is traditionally home to the ‘generals’ portraits of old’ and the tradition of gifting to the mess has fallen away over the years,” she said.
“Our messes are such an important part of our history and culture that need to be preserved and reimagined as a contemporary place of learning and professional companionship.
“I hope that in decades to come, officers who visit the Army logistic officers’ mess will admire the portrait as one that captures a time, but also a watershed moment in reimagining training and a working life that hopefully became better for the experience.”