Soldier draws on military service for unique exhibition
ON THREE occasions, Toowoomba Major Michael Armstrong has said goodbye to his family and with a mix of trepidation and excitement, has entered a war zone as a soldier.
He served in Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and Iraq.
His military service included a wide variety of experiences including employment as an aircraft technician (Blackhawk), in senior military self defence and close quarter fighting instructor, a communications officer, a regimental operations officer and a range of other staff positions within the training, regimental and special forces organisations.
It is then, with genuine surprise, that people learn that Major Armstrong completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts prior to enlisting in the Australian Army 18 years ago - he is a visual artist specialising in painting and drawing.
His works will be displayed in an exhibition in Toowoomba from December 2 to 5 at the University of Southern Queensland in the Concert Hall.
The exhibition comprises of an array of sculptures, drawings and art installations produced as part of Major Armstrong's Masters of Arts research.
The art explores his experiences as a soldier and artist during his deployments, focusing on concepts of experience and destruction.
"As both artist and soldier, my talents are considered in opposition to each other; one is bent on creation the other generally considered as a destructive force," Major Armstrong said.
"It is within this conflict of environment and self that I have operated as a soldier and artist; driven by a desire to understand."
This desire led him back to formal study, and following his return from Afghanistan in 2013, he re-entered university to undertake a Masters of Creative Arts at USQ.
A short notice deployment to Iraq in 2015 facilitated a period of intense reflection and discussion as he continued his art studies 13,000km from home.
Granted an opportunity to study full-time in 2016, Major Armstrong took advantage of this break from service to complete the bulk of his master's study. That break was a process that culminated in the production of a solo exhibition in December 2016.
The exhibition will run 10am to 2pm until Monday, December 5.