Launceston has taken delivery of a war chest of visually compelling images that reveal the desolate reality that Australian troops face in Afghanistan.
In 2007 Melbourne artists Charles Green and Lyndell Brown were offered a six-week tour of artistic duty to the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan as Australia's official war photographers and artists for the National War Memorial.
``We were deployed at the time there was a surge of troops under George Bush to Iraq,'' Green recalls.
``We knew it would be a dangerous mission. It was like the travel agent offer from hell.
``But it was also an incredible privilege to be asked to follow in the footsteps of illustrious artists such as Arthur Streeton and George Lambert.''
Now this touring collection of their oil-on-linen paintings is on display at Launceston's Academy Gallery linked to the School of Visual and Performing Arts, Inveresk.
It's an exhibition that delivers a contemporary message of the ``tragedy of war, the lies of war, the isolation and desolation felt by the coalition troops . . . the rank opportunistic imperialism of war,'' Brown and Green explain, almost in unison.
Concentrating on the diverse experiences of Australian military men and women involved in conflict, the large and intimate-scale paintings reveal the strange, eerie and complex layers that define contemporary warfare.
Razor wire, pallets of supplies, concrete blast-proof barriers, war tanks, Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters, war-wearied soldiers in fatigues, the ``weight of hot clear blue desert skies'' - Green and Brown have documented it all in disquieting images that are at the same time powerful in their stillness.
``What we haven't included is the heat-of-the-moment blood and death: that's the role of photojournalists, and that certainly wasn't us,'' says Green.
A touching inclusion is a post-tour portrait of Sabi, the Australian Special Forces explosives detection dog who was found alive almost 14 months after going missing in action in Afghanistan in 2008. The heroic black labrador went missing during the same battle in which SAS trooper Mark Donaldson won his Victoria Cross.
``We have included our portrait of Sabi because it's important to acknowledge her amazing story,'' says Brown of the dog who has become a morale-boosting symbol of courage and endurance.
WHAT: Framing Conflict: Iraq and Afghanistan, an Australian War Memorial touring exhibition.
WHERE: Academy Gallery, Inveresk.
WHEN: Until September 14, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.