Committee Spotlight: The Army Art Life

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

~Michelle Saleeba


Chris McCalman has been involved with Army Art for 35 years. Drawing on her love of art and her skill at bringing people together Chris's continued participation, enthusiasm and hard work have ensured the annual charity exhibition has been a repeated success. This year Chris has taken on the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator.

I was really interested to know how Chris became involved with Army Art, and what has motivated her to stay connected all these years. You won't be surprised to read it's the opportunity to give back to the community, combined with a general sense of wellbeing she feels from being a volunteer herself. Consistent themes amongst our Army Art volunteers.


Chris McCalman with DHA representative Mark Turtle 2015

Michelle Saleeba: What inspired you to become involved with Army Art?

Chris McCalman: I returned to Perth in 1982 from a posting to Scotland and after being involved in the wives group there, decided to join the SASR Ladies Auxiliary. From there it was a natural progression to join the Army Art Committee the following year – that was 35 years ago (scary thought!!) – and I’m still here. I’ve retired twice but it keeps drawing me back.

Tell us why volunteering for Army Art is important to you?

With raising a family and working full-time (till last year), aside from Army Art I haven’t volunteered for any other organisation. Volunteering is a way I can give back to the community. It’s allowed me to make lasting friendships and also to meet many people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity of meeting if not for volunteering with Army Art. It also keeps me busy!

What do you wish other people could know about Army Art and the work they do?

That we are a group of people from different backgrounds and circumstances working together to give back to the community we live in. Thousands of Perth people have benefitted from Army Art, both directly and indirectly.

Such a long history of organising and curating this exhibition, with access to so much fabulous artwork! I'm really curious to know more about the type of art that you enjoy and collect.

I'm more of a glass person than a painting person, although in saying that my walls are full (and some are stored in wardrobes)!


One of my favourite art pieces is by Mary-Ann Devereux called "Loyalty, Commitment and Mateship" that was displayed at Army Art 2015. Having been to Gallipoli a couple of times this painting epitomises for me the friendship that now exists between the Turks and the Aussies. I find my taste has changed a lot over the years - I was a real landscape girl when I first became involved.


In so far as glass goes there are many artists whose work I appreciate, but Peter Bowles and Anne Clifton at Gallery Salamanca would be my favourites. Together they set up Perth's first glass blowing studio, but have now moved to Tasmania. Their work is amazing.

If you or your organisation would like to experience the proven benefits of volunteering, contact Chris using the webform on our Get Involved page or email Chris armyart@hotmail.com we'd love to have you involved for Army Art 2018.

#ChrisMcCalman #DefenceHousingAssociation #MarkTurtle #ArmyArt #profile #exhibition #committeemember #volunteering #Sponsor

The generosity of our sponsors is essential to this event being able to directly support not for profit organisations that help current or former defence personnel and their families.

  our major sponsor  

welcome to our new partner

has been our staunch ally for many years and the primary reason we are able to support our chosen organisations so fully.

We are excited to welcome Art's Edge onboard with a fabulous opportunity supporting our artists in presenting at their most professional standard.  Click their logo to find out more about their work.

We are very grateful.

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