Erica Seccombe, Crossing the line 24.8.1916, (2017), photo screenprint, printed in black ink, from one stencil; hand-stitched read silk thread on white Stonehenge paper, 77.2 x 111.8cm, copyright, AWM. 


Acquired by the Australian War Memorial, 2016.

text image and page AWM 

Seccombe created 'Crossing the line 24.8.1916' in memory of her grandfather Clarence Edwin Seccombe to whom she was very close as a child. In this work she has enlarged a tiny photograph Clarence took on his pocket Kodak at the Crossing the Line ceremony as his ship HMAT Vestalia passed the equator en route to the Western Front in 1916. The enlarged photograph became the basis for her screenprinted work to commemorate and remember her grandfather’s wartime experience. The image captures the adventurous spirit in which Clarence and his fellow comrades departed Australia one hundred years ago. This photograph captures the youth and naive enthusiasm of these men as they embarked upon an adventure, an adventure that sadly so many of them were never to return from. Seccombe’s grandfather Clarence did return but he came back to Australia transformed by his harrowing experience in the trenches. To highlight the metaphorical point of no return for many of these young men Seccombe has tenderly hand stitched the line of the equator across the work in a single red thread. The red thread also symbolises the collective experience of war - of thrill, adventure, terror, duty and brotherhood that binds these men together. Moreover the individual stitches suggest increments of time slowly passing, with many of the young men remaining eternally young, suspended in time as they appear in this photograph.