Keady's Corner

Cowra Regional Art Gallery Presents Heritage Artworks & Objects By Italian POWS, Cowra

Written by: The Cowra Phoenix

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IMAGES: left. Artworks on display at the Cowra POW Camp & Italian POW Musicians during a performance at the Cowra POW Camp. Right. Cowra POW Camp Chapel with Altar Panels

In conjunction with the Cowra Festival of International Understanding, the Cowra Regional Art Gallery will open its latest exhibition, ‘Heritage Artworks & Objects by Itlaina POWs, Cowra’, on Friday 22nd March.

The exhibition will run across the weekend for the duration of the FOIU, closing on Sunday 24th March.

The exhibition recognises and commemorates the Italian prisioners of war that were held at the Cowra POW Camp during World War 2.

The Cowra POW Camp housed POWs from Italy and Japan as well as Indonesian, Korean, Taiwanese and Javanese internees. The first group of prisoners were Italians captured by Allied Forces in North Africa. From 12,000 sent to Australia 2,000 were sent to Cowra.

They arrived on 15 October 1941 and helped build areas of the camp. The overall numbers of Italian POWs that went through Cowra may never be known but it is estimated at about 5,000.

During the operation of the POW camp it became apparent that many of the Italian POWs were easy going and just wanted to work hard and see their time out. During their long period in Cowra, many worked on farms in and around the Cowra district, others shared their artistic talents with the guards and local community. After many years we have a much better understanding of the importance of the Italians role in our district and their subsequent post war contribution to Australia generally.

Steph Cooke

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Steph Cooke