1949

Born George Noel Gittoes to Joyce Gittoes, a ceramicist, and Claude Gittoes, Secretary of the Department of Main Roads, Sydney, Australia. Older sister, Pamela Griffith, later becomes a celebrated printmaker.

 

1954–61

Attends Bexley Infants and Primary School in southern Sydney.

Performs puppet plays for children to raise funds for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

 

1962–64

Attends Kogarah High School in southern Sydney.

 

1965–67

Family moves to Bardwell Park in southern Sydney.

Attends nearby Kingsgrove North High School where he completes the Higher School Certificate.

Persuades his art class to specialise in Islamic art for the first NSW Higher School Certificate in 1967.

Receives a copy of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, triggering his lifelong interest in Sufi literature.

Awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend university.

 

1968

Enrols in a combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Sydney. Studies with the art historians Bernard Smith and Donald Brook.

Attends the inaugural John Power Lecture
in Contemporary Art at the Power Institute
of Fine Arts, University of Sydney given by
the American art critic Clement Greenberg. Greenberg views Gittoes’ recent paintings and encourages him to travel to New York.

 

Late 1968–69

Drops out of university and travels to New York.

Studies painting and drawing at the Art Students League of New York, an open-access art school, where he works with African-American realist artist Joseph Delaney.

Meets Andy Warhol, witnesses the operations of his studio, The Factory, and shoots casting reels for him on a 16mm movie camera.

Returns to Sydney in late 1969.

 

1970

With Martin Sharp, establishes the Yellow House in Macleay Street, Potts Point as a homage 
to Vincent van Gogh’s unrealised dream to establish a centre for artists to live, work and exhibit at his house in Arles, France.

Fellow artists include Bruce Goold, Peter Wright, Franklin Johnson, Brett Whiteley, Antoinette Starkiewicz, Tim Burns and Greg Weight.

Creates the Yellow House Puppet Theatre and holds regular performances and exhibitions. The puppets are often made collaboratively with his mother, ceramicist Joyce Gittoes.

Begins a series of works including The Hotel Kennedy Suite and The Kent State Suite responding to events in the United States, including anti-Vietnam War protests and the Kent State shootings at Kent State University, Ohio.

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Puppet Theatre, The Yellow House, 1970. Photo: George Gittoes

1971

Performs at the Aquarius Festival at the Australian National University, Canberra, a counter-cultural event that included protests against the Vietnam War and conscription.

Continues working at the Yellow House until mid-year. Yellow House closes at the end of 1971.

Establishes a studio at Bundeena on the outskirts of the Royal National Park south of Sydney.

Art practice is influenced by the light-filled waters of nearby Port Hacking and the patterns of bush in the national park.

Meets and begins working with visiting Aboriginal artists from Mornington Island off the northern coast of Queensland, leading to an exploration of several aspects of Aboriginal culture.

Begins work on the Rainbow Way series, inspired by the Aboriginal creation myth of the Rainbow Serpent and based on themes of the sea and the physics of light.

 

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George Gittoes at the Aquarius Festival, Canberra, 1971
. Photo: courtesy of the Canberra Times

1974

Awarded the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award at Campbelltown Art Centre, Sydney for his painting Rainbow Serpent.

 

1975

Works in Progress, solo exhibition of abstract colour photographs at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney.

Rainbow Way, solo exhibition at Coventry Gallery, Sydney and Brummels Gallery, Melbourne.

 

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George Gittoes working in the surf, Bundeena, 1975. Photo: Norman Alcott

 

1976

Solo exhibition of colour photographs, Super-8 films and hydrophone recordings at Solander Gallery, Canberra.

Meets physicist Zoltan Hegedus and is invited to work with him at the CSIRO Laboratory in Sydney to collaborate on the application of laser holography as an art medium.

 

1977

In collaboration with Zoltan Hegedus, develops the first multicolour white-light transmission holograms.

Completes Rainbow Way, a 16mm colour film based on the same underwater holographic light phenomenon as his earlier photographs and Super-8 film of the same title with assistance from the Creative Development Branch of the Australian Film Commission.

Participates in the ‘Ashes of Sydney’, a one- day event held as an alternative to the Sydney Festival, projecting images from the Rainbow Way series on the underside of the Gladesville Bridge. The projection was accompanied by audio produced using a hydrophone in a shark cage under the bridge, combined with music by composer Martin Wesley-Smith and his electronic music and audio-visual performance group WATT.

Sunfish, solo exhibition at Macquarie Galleries, Sydney of works – including colour photographs, videos and colour holograms – relating to the sea.

Sunfish, environmental performance at Dawn Fraser Baths, Balmain, Sydney, featuring large- scale projections of film, divers with underwater lights and live music composed and performed by Martin Wesley-Smith and WATT.

Rainbow Way screens at Sydney and Melbourne film festivals and in theatrical release.

Travels to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia to learn more about Aboriginal art and dance.

 

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Photographer Jon Lewis at George Gittoes’ Sunfish solo exhibition, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 1977
. Photo: George Gittoes

1978

In collaboration with arts writer and, later, wife Gabrielle Dalton, creates set designs and filmic visuals for the Sydney Dance Company production of Poppy directed by Graeme Murphy at the Theatre Royal, Sydney.

With Gabrielle Dalton, creates visuals for the Greek Dance Company, Regent Theatre, Sydney.

With Gabrielle Dalton, forms the film production company Gittoes & Dalton Productions.

 

1979

Forms the environmental theatre group Theatre Reaching Environments Everywhere (TREE) with Gabrielle Dalton, dancer and choreographer Ronaldo Cameron and Martin Wesley-Smith. TREE gains a reputation for innovative, exciting theatre created in landscape settings with large-scale projections of films on environmental surfaces and laser effects. The projects involve community workshops and participation.

TREE presents the environmental performances The Rosella Sisters and the Rainbow Eel and Bundeena Between the Tides at Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney, and The Sea at Darook Park, Cronulla.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the 16mm short film Wattamolla, a documentary on art and the environment commissioned by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Solo exhibition of paintings based on the theme of dance at Coventry Gallery, Sydney.

 

1980

Marries Gabrielle Dalton.

Exhibits colour holograms at the Adelaide Festival as part of Through the Looking Glass, a touring exhibition from the Museum of Holography, New York.

TREE presents the large-scale environmental performance Wattamolla Fire Dream at Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney.

Produces the 16mm experimental short film Refined Fire. The film explores the issue of nuclear war and uses special effects created in-camera to extend the possibilities of painting with light on film.

Australian representative at the International Photographic Exhibition, Fribourg, Switzerland.

 

1981

Releases short film Refined Fire, premiering at the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre, Sydney.

Refined Fire nominated for Best Experimental Film at the Australian Film Institute awards; wins silver medal at the Hiroshima Film Festival, Japan; is a finalist in the Baltimore Film festival; and wins best cinematographer and best special effects at the Armidale Film Festival, NSW.

TREE presents the large-scale environmental performance Echoes and Star Tides at Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney.

ABC Television produces and screens Echoes and Star Tides, a documentary film based on the TREE performances of the same title.

 

1982

Exhibits a series of holograms in the group exhibition Space-Light: Holography and Laser Spectacular at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now Powerhouse Museum), Sydney.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the 16mm documentary short film Tracks
of the Rainbow for ABC Television. The film documents a group of six Aboriginal teenagers from southern urbanised areas of Australia as they follow the tracks of the Rainbow Serpent through the Northern Territory, from Uluru (Ayers Rock) to Arnhem Land and across the sea to Melville Island.

Creates a model of the Wattamolla performance Echoes and Star Tides for inclusion in the Adelaide Festival exhibition Australian and British Stage Design which tours nationally.

The model is donated to the collection of the Sydney Opera House.

 

1983

Artist in residence at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory.

In collaboration with Gabrielle Dalton, produces The Pebbles Show, a community-based performance. TREE presents The Unfound Land at Wattamolla Beach, Royal National Park, Sydney. This is the most successful performance by TREE, attracting between 5000 and 6000 people over two nights.

 

1984

Travels to Britain, Europe and the United States.

Undertakes extensive travel throughout the outback regions of the Northern Territory and begins filming three documentaries produced with Gabrielle Dalton.

 

1985

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the 16mm documentary film Frontier Women which examines the lives of two women living in outback Northern Territory. The film is later broadcast on Channel 10 in Australia and in the United States.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the 16mm documentary film Warriors and Lawmen in the Northern Territory which covers two criminal cases from 1933 and 1968 and examines the relationship between European and traditional Aboriginal laws. The film is later broadcast on ABC Television and in the United States.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the 16mm documentary film Unbroken Spirit which examines the lives of stockmen working on one of the largest cattle stations in Australia. The film is later broadcast by the Channel 7 network in Australia, BBC Television in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

 

1986

Birth of son, Harley Gittoes.

Travels to Nicaragua, Central America and visits the arts collective on Solentiname Islands, collaborating with Miriam Guevara, Olivia Silva and Ernesto Cardenal.

 

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Gittoes filming Daisy Zamora for
The Bullets of the Poets, Nicaragua, 1986. Photo: Jeff Cassel

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Gittoes filming for The Bullets of the Poets, Nicaragua, 1986, photo: Jeff Cassel

1987

Birth of daughter, Naomi Gittoes. Death of father, Claude Gittoes.

Releases the documentary The Bullets of the Poets.

Travels throughout the Northern Territory accompanied by photographer Jon Lewis.

Solo exhibition of paintings developed during visits to the Northern Territory at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin and Coventry Gallery, Sydney.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the documentary Visions in the Making for ABC Television. The documentary features
six of Australia’s leading artists working in painting (John Olsen), photography
 (Gunther Deichmann), fashion design
(Jenny Kee), holography (Paula Dawson), traditional Aboriginal art (Bobby Nymirra) and cinematography (Russell Boyd), and explores the way their practice responds to and interacts with the Australian landscape.

 

1988

Finalist in the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney with the work
El Tigre – Nicaragua.

Solo exhibition at William Mora Galleries, Melbourne.

 

1989

Travels to the Philippines to work with Filipino artists. Lives and works in the Philippines during the civil conflict, producing an extensive series of work documenting individuals caught in

the crossfire. The Salvage series documents the discovery of the body of a torture victim dumped near the harbour at Smokey Mountain landfill. Befriends Filipino artist Nune Alvarado and is invited to work with the Concerned Artists of Negros – a progressive coalition of artists that took an active role in promoting nationalist consciousness in the arts – on the Island of Negros. Alvarado later travels to Australia to work with Gittoes at his Bundeena studio.

Begins the Heavy Industry series which explores the working conditions of miners and steelworkers in Wollongong, Newcastle and Broken Hill.

Artist in residence at Wollongong City Art Gallery for Heavy Industry, followed by a solo exhibition.

Artist in residence at Newcastle Art Gallery to continue the Heavy Industry project, followed by solo exhibition.

Artist in residence at Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery to continue the Heavy Industry project, followed by solo exhibition.

 

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Gittoes on the floor of the Newcastle steel works with unknown refactory sprayer, 1989. Photo: courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald

1990

Re-creates the Yellow House Puppet Theatre for The Yellow House 1970–72 retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Puppet theatre, puppets and props from the Yellow House Puppet Theatre are acquired by the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Gives Power Lecture, University of Sydney on the Yellow House and contemporary art in the Philippines and Nicaragua.

Solo exhibition of paintings at William Mora Galleries, Melbourne.

Crows Over Cane Fields, solo exhibition at Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney of paintings developed during visits to the Philippines.

Artist in residence, Whyalla, South Australia to continue the Heavy Industry series, followed by solo exhibition at Eyre Peninsula Cultural Trust, Whyalla.

Awarded Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney for the work Combustion from the Heavy Industry series.

Finalist in the Wynne Prize (for Combustion and Our House) and the Sir John Sulman Prize (for The Breather) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The three works are from the Heavy Industry series.

 

1991

Receives Artist Development Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts to complete Heavy Industry series for interstate touring exhibition developed by Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. The exhibition tours 1993–94 and includes twenty public art venues in six states.

Curates and contributes work to The Ronaldo Cameron Collection exhibition at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, New South Wales.

Invasion of Kuwait by United States military sees Gittoes’ return to the documentation of conflict.

Produces Empire State Suite, a series of
24 etchings responding to media coverage of the Gulf War.

 

1992

Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting Ancient Prayer, inspired by the death from motor neurone disease of his close friend and artistic collaborator Ronaldo Cameron.

Finalist in the Wynne Prize for Bound for Botany (ICI Botany) and the Sir John Sulman Prize for Cracking Kiln Botany ICI and Underground Crib Broken Hill at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

 

1993

Documents the Australian Defence Force as peacekeepers as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Somalia (March) and Cambodia (May–July). Australian War Memorial organises official military support. Works begin as photographs or drawings combined with diary entries; they are later developed into large- scale works on paper or paintings in his studio at Bundeena. Many of the works document

the human casualties of landmines; others are based on night-vision goggles used by the peacekeepers in Somalia in regions without electricity.

Awarded the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney for the work Open Cut (from the Heavy Industry series), which depicts the decaying Aberdare Colliery in Ipswich, Queensland.

Finalist in the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales for portrait of Ronaldo Cameron.

Collaborates with WATT on the Dry Solace performance by providing over 7000 slides produced during visits to Somalia. Presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and Townsville Civic Theatre, Queensland.

 

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Gittoes at work in Somalia, 1993. Photo: unknown Australian Army Officer

1994

Travels to Western Sahara, Algeria, Sinai, Israel and Southern Lebanon (February–March)
with Australian forces to document work
of Australian United Nations peacekeepers and truce observers. Work resulting from the experience became the basis of Realism of Peace, a major solo exhibition developed by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin and touring nationally.

Travels to South Africa (April) as an independent observer to document the lead-up to and results of the general elections held on 27 April 1994. The elections were the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to take part and marked the conclusion of the four-year process to end apartheid. The African National Congress won the election, with Nelson Mandela elected president and South Africa’s first black chief executive. Gittoes’ resulting series of works, Freedom Dance, was exhibited at Arthaus Gallery, Sydney.

Finalist in the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney for a self-portrait titled Self Portrait in Somalia.

Travels to the Philippines for an exhibition of collaborative work with Nune Alvarado at the Australian Centre, Makati City, Philippines.

 

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Gittoes at work in Somalia, 1993. Photo: unknown Australian Army Officer.

1995

Returns to South Africa and travels to Rwanda and Mozambique with the Australian Army Medical Support Force. Witnesses and documents the infamous Kibeho massacre which occurred in a camp for displaced persons on 22 April 1995. Australian soldiers serving as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda estimated that soldiers
of the Rwandan Patriotic Army killed at least 4000 people. The photographs and drawings Gittoes produced in Rwanda form the basis for the exhibition Eyewitness at Arthaus Gallery, Sydney.

Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting The Preacher, which came out of the Rwandan series of works.

Solo exhibition The Realism of Peace opens at Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. The works document his tours with Australian peacekeeping forces to Somalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, the Middle East, Sinai, Rwanda and Mozambique. The exhibition tours nationally until 1997.

Finalist in the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney for a portrait
of Lieutenant General John Sanderson, Commander of the international military component of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia.

 

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Gittoes at work in Cambodia with Lot, 1993. Photo: unknown Australian Army Officer

1996

Exhibition of Rwandan paintings and photographs at Parliament House, Sydney.

Travels to Bosnia (April–May) on a privately sponsored trip to document United Nations- monitored elections. Produces series of paintings based on the people of Sarajevo,
the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and documents the effects of the 1992–96 Bosnian War for independence, the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare.

Returns to Australia via Berlin. In Berlin, attends exhibition of works by Käthe Kollwitz and meets Mayen Beckmann, the granddaughter
of Max Beckmann, the German painter whose traumatic experiences of the First World War shaped his artistic practice. A lasting friendship is formed and an ongoing dialogue regarding the artist as witness continues.

 

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Gittoes at displaced persons camp, Kibeho, the day before the massacre, 1995. Photo: unknown Australian Army Officer

 

1997

Receives a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘service to art and international relations
as an artist and photographer portraying the effects on the environment of war, international disasters and heavy industry’.

Exhibits Kibeho Massacre series in the group exhibition Innenseite at Projektgruppe Stoffwechsel, Kassel, Germany, a satellite exhibition of Documenta X.

Travels to Northern Ireland. After contact with both Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant paramilitaries, commences a series of works based on confrontations between the two groups.

Contributes to the group exhibition, Sarajevo, developed by Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney and touring nationally.

Finalist in the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney for a portrait of artist John Olsen.

 

1998

George Gittoes, monograph by Gavin Fry, published by Craftsman House.

Receives an Asialink residency at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing where he travels to outlying areas, including the Yangtze River and Tibet, to document farmers and other rural workers.

Travels to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea with Australia’s Peace Monitoring Group, comprising military personnel and civilians, to document the final stages of the peace process following the end of the Civil War (1989–98).

Solo survey exhibition held at Greenhill Galleries, Adelaide, coinciding with the Adelaide Festival.

Solo exhibition at Australian Galleries, Sydney.

 

1999

Subject of I Witness: The Art of George Gittoes, an independent film by director Don Featherstone, which includes footage from the China residency of the previous year and an in- depth discussion about documenting the major social upheavals of the late twentieth century and the dark side of humanity. Screened on ABC Television.

Works on the Minefields series to document the human casualties of anti-personnel mines in support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Travels to Thailand, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Pakistan to collect the stories and pictures of victims. Continuation of work that began in 1993.

 

2000

Continues the Minefields project and travels to East Timor, Congo and Rwanda.

Minefields exhibited at the Palace of Nations (United Nations Office), Geneva, Switzerland; Sir Hermann Black Gallery, University of Sydney; and in Moscow, Russia.

Travels to the United States and is introduced to American painter Leon Golub, who is well- known for his socio-political work in the 1980s that deals with violence and terrorism. Golub becomes his mentor and their friendship is long lasting.

Solo exhibition World Diary opens at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre and tours nationally until 2002.

 

2001

Receives a Centenary Medal from the Australian Government for ‘service as an internationally renowned artist’.

Travels to South Africa (April–July) for his retrospective touring exhibition, Lives in the Balance, held at Durban Art Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, and Pretoria Art Gallery.

Travels to Israel and Palestine (July–August) and documents attacks and bombings aimed at both Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza area.

Preparing works at Bundeena studio for solo exhibition Persistence of Hope when the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York take place. The event reshapes the works in the exhibition, which document terror attacks witnessed in the Middle East.

 

2002

Travels with Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) to Afghanistan for six weeks (February–March) and visits refugee camps established following the United States attack on Afghanistan in October 2001. While in Afghanistan, Operation Anaconda is launched by the United States against Al-Qaeda fighters (1 March).

Commissioned by the Visible Art Foundation
to create a painting for the Republic Apartment Tower in Melbourne to mark the anniversary
of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The commission is cancelled once the work is completed and the painting, War on Terra, is subsequently exhibited at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 11 September.

Paula and Edwin Sidman Visiting Fellow in the Arts at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, followed by solo exhibition Night Vision: The Artist as Witness.

Travels to Washington and witnesses protests against the impending war in Iraq. Realises importance of speaking to the younger generations about war and conflict though the medium of film.

 

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Gittoes in his studio at Bundeena, 2002. Photo: William Yang

 

2003–04

Travels to Iraq four times between March 2003 and May 2004. Here he interviews and films American soldiers on active duty, and Iraqi citizens and soldiers, on the role of music in the contemporary battlefield for his feature documentary Soundtrack to War, the first in his trilogy of War on Terror films.

 

 

2004

Release of Soundtrack to War and its premiere on ABC Television.

Release of Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 which features seventeen clips from Soundtrack to War.

No Exit: A Tale of Two Cities – George Gittoes in New York and Baghdad, solo exhibition at Macquarie University Art Gallery, Sydney of work produced during travels to New York and

Baghdad before and after the United States military entered Iraq.

 

2005

Soundtrack to War screens at the Sydney and Berlin film festivals followed by cinema releases in Australia, the United States and Europe.

Soundtrack to War screens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Soundtrack to War included in group exhibition Interesting Times: Focus on Contemporary Australian Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

 

2006

Travels to Miami, Florida to document the Miami-based subculture of a group of African- American soldiers who featured in Soundtrack to War.

Directs and co-produces with Gabrielle Dalton the subsequent feature documentary Rampage.

Releases Rampage, which screens at the Berlin, Sydney, Vancouver and Montreal film festivals, followed by cinema releases in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States.

 

2007

Travels to the remote tribal belt of the North- West Frontier Province of Pakistan and begins shooting the feature docudrama Miscreants
of Taliwood, the third film in his War on Terror trilogy. The film combines the drama and action of a Pashto telemovie with documentary footage in the Taliban-controlled tribal belt.

While living in Pakistan works with local filmmakers and actors to direct and produce two Pashtun-language films, Servants and Fire.

Included in Turbulence, the 3rd Auckland Triennial at Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

30 Years – Long Journey retrospective exhibition of three decades of work at Art Equity, Sydney.

 

2008

Receives an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Establishes a studio in Surry Hills in inner-city Sydney.

The Time: A Season in Pakistan, solo exhibition at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Sydney of works produced while living and working in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2007.

 

2009

Releases feature documentary Miscreants of Taliwood which premieres at the Adelaide Film Festival. Later screened at Telluride Film Festival, Colorado; International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam; Planete + Doc Film Festival, Poland; Biografilm Festival, Italy; Santa Cruz Film Festival, California; Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival, United Kingdom; Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, Denmark; and Traverse City Film Festival, Michigan. Screened on SBS Television.

Commissioned by the Big Day Out, an Australian national touring music festival, to reproduce large-scale panels of three paintings from the No Exit series for the main stage. The works included two Night Vision paintings on either side of Revelation.

Temporarily relocates to Berlin and begins working on Descendence, a series of large- scale diptychs accompanied by text panels. The works are inspired by events in conflict zones and the nature of twenty-first-century warfare, initially conceived in diary form in Iraq and Afghanistan. They tell the fictitious story of the Virus Squad led by Corporal Night.
The completed works are the basis for a 2013 performance, The Afghan Book of the Dead.

 

2010

Exhibits the Descendence series in Germany and Switzerland.

Funded by an international aid agency to assist in the restoration of the Pashtun film industry by directing and producing three Pashtun-language drama features, Moonlight, Starless Night

and The Flood, shot on location in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Film produced in partnership with performance artist Hellen Rose.

Miscreants of Taliwood screens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

 

2011

Begins working in Afghanistan on a trilogy of interconnected Pashto love-story feature films including the new docudrama Love City (later retitled Love City Jalalabad) with Hellen Rose, as well as Talk Show and The Tailor’s Story. The films are shot in Jalalabad, the second largest city in Pakistan, with an entirely Afghan and Pashtun cast and crew.

Witness to War, retrospective exhibition held at Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston.

Establishes multi-disciplinary arts centre
Yellow House in Jalalabad with Hellen Rose
in the Pashtun-dominated region south of Afghanistan. Similar to the original 1970s Yellow House in Potts Point, Sydney, it features a cinema, traveling tent circus, rainbow-painting studios, Secret Garden Cafe and Rose Theatre outdoor stages.

Death of mother, Joyce Gittoes.

Solo seven-film retrospective at Anthology Film Archives, New York, an international centre for the preservation, study and exhibition of film and video. Screenings include The Bullets of the Poets, Soundtrack to War, Rampage, Miscreants of Taliwood, Love City [Jalalabad], Talk Show and The Tailor’s Story.

Attends the first day of Occupy Wall Street, a protest movement to create awareness of social and economic inequality on 17 September in Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district.

 

2012

Establishes Buraq films with Afghan filmmakers to produce high-quality Pashto-language films, based at the Yellow House, Jalalabad.

Purchases a warehouse in Turrella in southern Sydney and establishes it as a multimedia arts space known as The Rockdale Yellow House.

Love City [Jalalabad] previews at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany.

 

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Love City Jalalabad, location shoot, 2013, photo: Waqar Alam

2013

Releases feature documentary Love City Jalalabad which premieres at the Sydney Film Festival.

Artist in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York to produce Synthages, which combines drawing with photography from the Rwandan series of works.

Returns to Syracuse to exhibit Synthages at Light Work in a solo exhibition, Nothing is Enough, and to receive Bassel Shehadeh Award for Social Justice.

Beauty in the Face of Everything, solo exhibition of works on paper at Art Equity, Sydney.
The works – watercolours with calligraphic brushstrokes overlaid with pen and ink and stamped with ancient Buddhist and Islamic patterns – mark a shift in style and a focus on creating beauty in the face of war and violence.

Presents the immersive theatre performance The Afghan Book of the Dead, directed by Hellen Rose.

Receives funding from Screen Australia for a new feature-length documentary, Snow Monkey, to be filmed in Afghanistan.

Undergoes several medical procedures, including prostate cancer surgery, a double knee replacement and hospitalisation for internal stomach bleeding.

Death of friend and Yellow House collaborator Martin Sharp.

 

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Love City Jalalabad, location shoot, 2013,  from left: George Gittoes, Amir Shah Talash, Noori Ahmadi and Arshad Kahn
, photo by Waqar Alam

 

2014

Receives a Community Service Award from the Premier of New South Wales.

Returns to the Yellow House Jalalabad in Afghanistan to commence filming Snow Monkey.

Major retrospective exhibition I Witness at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Sydney.

ABC Television produces Artspace documentary War Paint: The World According to George Gittoes.