Drawn to remember
FORMER soldier Ian Coate has a rare knack for helping others walk in the boots of those who have served their country.
The talented artist and illustrator is an expert at telling stories through images, creating military artworks to make sure past and present sacrifices are not forgotten or go under the radar — especially on Anzac Day.
“I’m always looking for something that will be either meaningful, capture a moment or inspire some sort of remembrance,” he said. “A lot of what I do is also educating through illustration.
“Having a picture that stimulates interest is the first doorway for kids to learn about the sacrifices made on their behalf that they may be completely ignorant of.”
His love for getting the Anzac message out there stems from seven years in the regular Army and 15 years in Reserves as an illustrator-reprographic and photographer in the Royal Australian Survey Corps.
The military also flows strongly through his veins, having family members who served in the Boer War,
World Wars I and II, Vietnam, Timor and Afghanistan.
Today, the 50-year-old runs his own business from a home studio in Perth’s northern suburbs and is one of only a few military artists, with numerous artworks exhibited in military museums around Australia and prints in many homes bearing war poems or powerful statements such as “Live life, dream big, take risks. It honours their sacrifice”.
One of Mr Coate’s popular pieces, “Sunset story of an Anzac family,” commemorates the sacrifice of yesterday’s Anzac soldiers and grief of the families dealing with their unthinkable loss.
His favourite is a dedication to a fallen mate titled “My Mate – Lest We Forget” because of the personal experience of losing a close friend in the
Blackhawk disaster at Townsville in 1996.
“For me, the purpose of art is to communicate some ideal in such a way that people have an emotional response to it,” he said.
“When they do, I feel that I’ve achieved what I set out to do.”
Much of his time is spent researching and seeking expert advice to ensure all military details are correct.
“While I’m working with the SAS Historical Foundation, I have a great opportunity to lean on the experts there because my knowledge is quite limited in certain areas,” he said.
“When you’re creating artworks dealing with historical subjects that are so personal to people who have served, it’s important to get the details right.”
Mr Coate wears many other hats, including children’s book illustrator, and is busy working on coronavirus-related projects for health organisations.
He has released free Anzac colouring-in sheets on his Mythic Australia website, which aims to engage Aussie kids with their own country.
On Anzac Day, Mr Coate will join fellow soldiers to remember lost mates and honour the fallen.