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Shadows of War

Shadows of War was published as a limited edition of 1 500 leather-bound, signed and numbered books in 1978.  The book sold out several months before publication, becoming the fastest selling book in Southern African history.  In fact the book now resells for extraordinary sums internationally.  The 48 drawings in Shadows of War, of which 38 are published here, are mirrored by verse written by natives of all colours and persuasions, from the earliest colonial settlers to contemporary poets caught up in the war's dark shadows.  Powerful and evocative verse from black writers in the country added texture and gravitas to this mix.  When I began the drawings, they were intended for a gentle, even whimsical coffee table book on rural Rhodesian life.  But the escalation of conflict in Rhodesia, in effect the prelude to the Bush War itself, soon overtook planning for the book.  At that point I had never heard the terms 'war artist' or 'war art' but found myself knee-deep in capturing the gritty realities of the path that led inevitably to war.  

It was a conflict that tore apart and devastated the country, laagering the white population, scattering the blacks.  For the whites, it was perceived as a war for self-determination and survival; for the blacks, most of them at least, it was a war of liberation.  But for all of them it was a war of endless complication, divided loyalties, pain and terror.  It was a young man’s war on both sides and drew in and affected the entire country without discrimination or regard for age or sex.  It is these people and their pain that are reflected in Shadows of War, black and white, young and old.  The sequence of drawings and verse records the initial tensions and overtures of war, reflecting my own accidental entry into war art and the end of my last colonial summer.  

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