31 May 2023 11:30 - 6 June 2023 19:30 AEST

ICRC exhibition brings reality of war to Australian cities

About the event

To watch the city you love die is heart-breaking, yet this is a reality for many as wars are increasingly fought in urban areas. When wars are fought in cities, they devastate buildings and infrastructure, they endanger the lives of civilians. And even after the fighting ends, the effects last for decades.

This year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is bringing the War in Cities exhibit to Australia, with showings in Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne. A powerful new commission from artist Marwa Charmand will join the exhibition, showcasing human stories from conflict.

A bike and a burnt-out car lie in the street in front of a scorched building in a severely damaged Baiji neighbourhood, Iraq, 2017. A.QUSAY/ICRC


What happens when war quite literally knocks at the door of your apartment? The horrors of being trapped in a city at war are manifold: the water stops flowing, the light and heating go off, windows are shattered by shock waves from nearby explosions, food becomes scarce, and life turns into a constant struggle to survive. Unearthing new strength from within becomes a new way of life as routine things like having clean water can be an unrelenting challenge.

Objects collected from battlefields, historical and contemporary audiovisual materials from the ICRC tell a story about the staggering toll of urban warfare on people, the humanitarian needs that arise, and people's resilience.

Wars are generally represented in museums long after the facts have been documented and the dead buried. But wars can be told in a different way: a teddy bear covered with grey concrete dust or the few delicate porcelain remnants of tradition recount another, no less important, story from this modern battlefield.

'War in Cities' will be showing at F Block Hall, Gorman Arts Centre from 31 May 2023 - 6 June 2023. This program is supported by Arts Capital at Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.

Weekdays: 11:30AM - 7:30PM
Weekend: 10AM - 4PM

Entry to the exhibition is free.

The exhibition will be showcased at the University of Queensland School of Political Sciences Building (General Purpose North 39A) from 16 August 2023 - 1 September 2023. And in Melbourne in November 2023. Details TBC.

For any queries please reach out to Sarah Davies on sadavies@icrc.org or Emily Contador-Kelsall on econtadorkelsall@icrc.org.


What time can I visit the exhibit?
Weekdays: 11:30AM - 7:30PM
Weekend: 10AM - 4PM

Where is it located?

F Block Hall, Gorman Arts Centre from 31 May 2023 - 6 June 2023. Gorman Arts Centre is located at 55 Ainslie Ave, Braddon ACT 2612. For more information on planning your visit, including transport and accessibility see here.

What can I expect to see?

While not graphic, the exhibition focuses on war and its impacts. The exhibit contains objects that our colleagues found or sourced in armed conflict-affected cities in Iraq. Our teams visited these places after fighting happened so they could bring relief or family news to survivors. The objects gathered for this exhibition are not archaeological artefacts, unique works of art or even beautifully crafted. Many could be found anywhere: a handbag, a fan, a doll. Yet we displayed them with respect, as they bear witness to the suffering of civilians in today's urban wars and demonstrate why the law of war matters. These objects are real – they once served a simple purpose in a community or a school, brought joy to a child or pride to a household. That is, until a bomb exploded and their owners had to flee.

A work by artist Marwa Charmand will also be at the exhibition, showcasing portraits and photos from populated areas around the world that are impacted by conflict.

Download the exhibition book to learn more:

Date & Time

31 May 2023 11:30 - 6 June 2023 19:30 AEST

Venue address

F Block Hall, Gorman Arts Centre
Gorman Arts Centre is located at 55 Ainslie Ave, Braddon ACT 2612