National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Vietnam Artist Alan Oliver

Maurice Conly, on loan from the Air Force, had returned home and the Army had decided they wanted to continue with having an artist covering the war in Vietnam and began looking to appoint a new artist.

In 1970, as the Vietnam War progressed, Alan David Cameron Oliver, an artist working in School Publications in Wellington was asked by artist Bill Sutton (who had a connection with the Army during WWII and post-war) if he wanted to work for Defence and more specifically the New Zealand Army, as their artist.

He agreed and enlisted in the Regular Force, Service Number 30935. He was given the rank of Major (Artist on Temporary Commission) and soon began a six weeks Tour of Duty as a War Artist recording New Zealand’s Military Operations in South East Asia (Thailand and Vietnam).

Whilst in South East Asia, based at Nui Dat, Vung Tau and Bon Son, Oliver sketched, drew and painted his observations using a variety of materials including oils, crayon/pastel, charcoal, watercolours, and pen and ink. This diversity can be seen in the selected art-works portrayed in the exhibition, Vietnam – An Artist’s Impression currently on display in the Thornton Gallery.

Upon Alan Oliver’s return, he embarked on a successful career as an Art Teacher, giving long service at Hamilton Girls High School until his retirement.