In 2011 Australian artist Ben Quilty travelled to Afghanistan attached to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as part of the Australian War Memorial's distinguished program of commissioning war artists, which was initiated during the First World War. Australian troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001 as part of Operation Slipper, the ADF's engagement in the war in Afghanistan. Quilty travelled to Kabul, Kandahar and Tarin Kot to undertake the commission of recording and interpreting the experiences of Australian service personnel.
Curated by Laura Webster, Curator of Art, Australian War Memorial, the exhibition includes sketches the artist made during his tour and over twenty studio paintings made after his return. The paintings include depictions of the machinery of war, while the majority focus on portraits of service men and women. These images convey a strong emotional and psychological power, capturing the impact the war has on those at the frontline. The exhibition in many ways tells the story of the "aftermath" of war from the artist's perspective and from the close relationship he formed with his subjects.