Roadshow to preserve our war antiques

CARE: Conservators can provide advice on keeping items, like this map. To book: roadshow-2017.
CARE: Conservators can provide advice on keeping items, like this map. To book: roadshow-2017.

AN ANTIQUES Roadshow-inspried event encourages Ballarat families to help safeguard the nation’s wartime legacy.

War Heritage Roadshow will allow Ballarat people to bring in their memorabilia to learn from historians how items fit into war periods and conservators will be on hand for preservation advice from University of Melbourne’s Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation.

Conservator and Grimwade director Robyn Sloggett said most key community war history was housed in Returned and Services League rooms and a fire gutting the Ivanhoe club on Friday highlighted the important need for families to also look after items.

“People think about war memorabilia as stuff brought home or sent home but it can also be items from here, like sheet music from songs keeping up troops’ spirits or recipe books,” Professor Sloggett said.

“All those stories are also part of our war heritage too, what we were doing and how we managed at home. War is such big part of our country’s rich history.

“Anything little, particularly material you might not think to be significant, can actually tell us a lot.”

Ditchy's View

Ditchy's View

Professor Sloggett said individual stories piece together a bigger picture of Australians at war, but it could also offer families an understanding to what loved ones might have endured. 

Ballarat High School student Laura Benney is passionate about conserving her family’s war memorabilia, which includes letters, medals and photos.

“We have a letter from my great-great grandfather and it was the last letter he wrote when he was in the trenches on the Western Front,” Laura said.  “He was worried his family had forgotten him because he hadn’t received anything from them recently. They had sent letters but they hadn’t arrived and he died about a month after he wrote that letter. It’s heartbreaking.”

The roadshow does not value items, but will look at any items from any wars. This can include modern memorabilia in the form of emails and social media posts. Ballarat War Heritage Roadshow will be at Art Gallery of Ballarat on Wednesday and Thursday.