Tag Archives: World War Two

Sad Day, Happy Flowers

31 Jul

Yesterday was a sad one, the funeral of my dear aunt who died after a long illness, aged 87. Although we had been expecting it for some time, it’s still a shock and grieving is hard. She’s the last of her generation on that side of my family, which means that my cousins and sibling and I are now the elders. That’s a sobering thought for a bunch of baby boomers who still feel like we’re 25 – well in our heads anyway. She lived through World War Two and before that had suffered terrible poverty during the Great Depression. Her husband of 66 years and childhood sweetheart had gone to school without shoes or socks, whatever the weather. We, thankfully, have no idea of that level of poverty anymore. They created the welfare state after the war, the National Health Service, free universal education, decent housing, social services, pensions, all done for our benefit, to make sure we didn’t suffer the deprivation they had. And now we see selfish millionaire public-schoolboy politicians trying to dismantle what that brave generation worked so hard and so selflessly to achieve. I have no words to describe my contempt.
As we waited in the watery sunshine for the hearse to arrive at the pretty little church in Waunarlwydd, I noticed a small group of pale purple pansies growing out of a crack at the base of the step leading into the church. Nobody had doused them with weedkiller and people stepped over them carefully. I love pansies, they have those daft little faces in the middle of their nodding heads with big ears. It cheered me up to see them surviving in such an unlikely place, so I drew them in my sketchbook.



Homage To Women Veterans.

11 Nov

Block print with chine colle: WW2 W.R.E.N.


A couple of years ago, my dear friend and neighbout died. She was in her ’90’s and was a veteran of World War Two, leaving her quiet village in West Wales to enlist in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, the W.R.E.Ns. After a posting to the Isle of Man, she was stationed in Swansea where, as a despatch rider, she learned how to strip and reassemble a motorbike on her kitchen table and ride her bike through the potholed city enduring night after night of bombing throughout the Blitz. An injury became seriously infected and she nearly died, but returned to duty as soon as she was on her feet.

British women of that generation threw their collective weight into the war effort, joining the Forces, becoming farmers, riveters, engineers, factory workers. Leaving their previous domestic lives behind them, they not only helped to defeat the Third Reich, they forged a new world for their daughters and granddaughters. They were feminists before feminism and sometimes I wonder if we realise how much we owe them.

I developed this block print after my friend died, as an homage to her and her generation. It was developed from a photograph of her as a young W.R.E.N and cut into polycarbonate foamboard. I printed a small edition onto Zercoll 145gsm paper using black litho/relief ink. I used a red hand-made Indian paper as chine colle for the poppy .

I don’t advocate war, but sometimes people have to step up and act out of duty for a wider good and that’s what her generation did. It’s now over seventy years since the War began and most of the veterans are dead. I miss them, their stoicism, their duty and their committment to making the future a better place.

A Big Bum and The Berlin Bundestag

29 Jul

Sandra's bottom in Berlin

Berlin, January 2010 and a group of artists from Swansea were traipsing around in two feet of snow when I did this unflattering drawing of Sandra during our guided tour of the Bundestag. Minus 15º C meant that we were all overdressed in lots of layers and although film and video are supposed to add ten pounds, drawing isn’t meant to! Poor Sandra; her bum isn’t this big really.

The tour included an insight into the social and political conditions that led to Hitler’s rise – it was grim. A lot of our group had parents who lived through World War Two and I found it harrowing at times, although I was heartened by the honesty of our German guide and the historical information displays. The building has loads of fantastic contemporary art installed and it’s topped off with a huge open-air dome designed by Norman Foster. We walked up it at the end of the tour and looked down on the city with snow swirling around us. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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