Occasionally an artist is able to create a work that somehow feels both timely and timeless. For me, this is exactly what photo artist Trini Schultz was able to capture with her piece titled Camouflage. Unfortunately, as we’re all too aware of once again in Europe, the spectre of war continues to haunt humanity and what I find brilliant about this image is the equilibrium between sadness and humour it manages to strike. The process of colouring in old photographs is one that gives new life to a past era and here specifically what makes the subject even more special is that it’s the artist’s husband great uncle, an Irishman who immigrated to Canada where he joined to fight in the first world war. Trini’s series ‘Surreal Relations’, of which this piece is a part, makes the process of re-inventing old photographs very personal, populated as they are by figures of her own family history.
With Camouflage, I cherish the anti-war message it’s able to strike with a playful simplicity that feels both thoughtful and profound. It more than anything underlines the plain silliness of war and makes me wish for a time in our history where we will finally just have our soldiers blend with flowery wallpaper instead of dirty trenches and bombed out ruins. I often revisit this image, every armistice day in fact, a special day for my country Belgium that reminds us of times when we faced similar destruction to what the Ukrainian people now endure. A song I recommend listening to while checking out this piece is ‘Where have all the flowers gone’, created by Pete Seeger but performed best in my humble opinion by Marlene Dietrich. One of the refrains is ‘when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn…’ let’s hope that one day we will.