HOME     V O R T E X    V O R T E X    V O R T E X 3    V O R T E X 4    V O R T E X 5     P E R S O N A L  B L O G

Conference Papers
Conference papers

Paul Gough
Cardiff University Conference on Visual Culture of the First World War, 13 November 2014

A Commission in the Army
Why paint war? This paper will address that essential question by looking at a range of British artists from the Great War (and some from more recent conflicts), not only those who were commissioned as official war artists and recorders but a wider range of non-professionals, those who in peacetime worked as surveyors, draughtsmen, architects, scene painters for the theatre, and those who were talented sketchers of the English landscape.

Many were called upon to exercise their creative skills in the service of the war, producing an extraordinarily diverse body of material. Much of their ‘trench art’ is to be seen in small, private and personal notebooks, on Mess menus or Divisional Christmas Cards, on irreverent newsletters or Brigade Broadsheets, or as illustrations in letters home from the front. They also formed the cadre of soldiers required to carry out panoramic sketching and surveillance drawings, work which required precision, disciplined draughtsmanship and an ability to unlearn techniques taught in the art school.

This illustrated paper will look in detail at their work, and at the negotiation skills that were essential to any successful commission. comparisons between Spencer’s ontology of reconciliation with Wall’s bleaker montage of disaster and death.