Elaine and Jim
Wolfensohn gift

Travelling exhibitions | Introduction | Blue case | Red case | Yellow case | Melbourne cup

Yellow Case: Form, space, design

Ian Howard

The arms of the people

Ian Howard The arms of the people 1990, bronze, unique cast, National Gallery of Australia enlarge

Artist's statement
'My individual investigation which involved inquiring, searching, experiencing and interacting with predominantly military hardware satisfied certain curiosities, brought into light other major issues and posed further questions.'

The arms of the people
Howard has used war and the military as a subject for his art since 1970. He has travelled to military establishments all over the world studying weapons and associated technology. The artist has a fascination with war and through his art he expresses his concern about the menace of war. Each work becomes a forceful statement on the destruction and torment caused by military technology and the arms race.

The arms of the people is a symbolic sculpture. The artist has used found objects in his artwork, which were then cast in bronze. The materials Howard uses are often discarded children’s toys, particularly war toys. In The arms of the people a bullet-headed figure leans under the weight of the scarred wing of an old war plane.


  • Create a sculpture, collage or drawing based on an issue that you feel strongly about, for example, environmental issues or world peace. For this project you could use found objects or images from newspapers or magazines.
  • Look at the size of the work. Why do you think the artist made the piece so small? What do you think he is saying about war?