Lori Pensini

Boy Soldier

Oil on Linen

65 x 85cm


Although the legal age for conscription in Australia was 18 with parental guidance, there were many boys that gave false ages in order to join as soldiers. As a result, it was impossible to gauge the numbers of underage enlisted.

Jack Harris, 15, the youngest Australian soldier to be ‘killed in action’ arrived at Gallipoli on the morning of a Turkish assault that would come to be known as the ‘Battle of Lone Pine’. His rifle and bayonet was taller than he was, he would not return. 

This painting of a boy soldier seeks to reflect the innocence and naivety of many boys that set off for ‘the excitement and adventure of the war to end all wars’. An innocence soon stripped by the brutal reality of war, that they were there to kill or be killed, and quickly. 

I have painted the boy soldier’s face with sunlit accents, golden, as if he was squinting into a setting sun – the setting sun a metaphor foretelling of the fading light of lives soon to be lost.