‘The Preacher’ by George Gittoes

I first came across Australian war journalist, George Gittoes’ work in an art gallery in 2005. His unconventional method of documenting conflict, through paintings, photography, prose and film have continued to inspire me ever since.

Gittoes’ account of the 1995 Rwandan Genocide, through his painting of The Preacher and its accompanying journal entry, provide a horrific record of human brutality and offer an insight into the experience of being an eye witness. 

What makes this piece of writing so significant is Gittoes’ ability to illustrate the horror of the event with unrestrained honesty combined with a distinct beauty. His work is truly profound, but at the same time demonstrates the challenge of being an observer of such suffering. This journal entry is vividly shocking and is revealing of the often hidden role of the journalist as a person, interacting and experiencing the events they report on. 

Not only am I inspired by Gittoes’ extraordinary ability to document conflict but I think we can also learn much from him about techniques of survival in dangerous situations. Although I’m sure most journalists will not find themselves witnessing the extent of the horror that Gittoes has, his experiences nonetheless provides invaluable insight into the role and method of journalists in the documenting process.

Jane Hosking is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University. This piece is part of the ’100 articles’ project. To see the list so far or to learn more about the project, click here.

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