Remembering hope in the work of Changi artist Des Bettany

I was delighted to discover that an Australian TV show ran a wee story this week on Changi artist Des Bettany. Des’ work – which his son Keith, in an incredible labour of love, has made available on a beautiful website, The Changi POW Artwork of Des Bettany – bears witness to the enduring nature of hope and the healing power of art, and celebrates the joy which is shot through creation even under travail and which dares to announce that something more permanent than violence and the fears which give rise to such shall have the last laugh. The story that tells of the discovery of Des’ ‘book’ also speaks – of hope’s surprises.


  1. What an amazing person and artist. Thanks for posting this, I hadn’t heard of him. Along the lines of hope and the healing power of art, Bettany’s work reminds me of Danny Gregory’s. The two books Danny wrote and illustrated called: “Everyday Matters” and “A Kiss Before You Go” are beautiful, gut-wrenching memoirs of love and loss. They are such a profound picture of the role of art in the artist’s life. Have you read them? His ‘Sketchbook Skool’ is really cool too!


  2. Thank you for your comment, Tamara, and for the reminder about Gregory’s work. The similarities are striking on a number of levels. Some of the same questions are also wrestled with, albeit in a different form, in the work of the Australian painter Libby Byrne. Libby reflects on this process in a wonderful essay published in my edited book Tikkun Olam – To Mend the World. I commend it to you.


  3. Hmm.. ok, maybe I will have to skip ahead to Libby’s essay. I have been sloooowly working my way through ‘Tikkun Olam’. I have to read it almost meditatively as these are not ideas I can just quickly absorb and move on. Each one implies so much for me as an artist, human, person of faith, student of theology etc.


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