Lectures
Lectures are currently held on Zoom at 2pm normally on the last Wednesday of each month. They last for 1 - 1½ hours including a question and answer session at the end.
Britain at War 1939 - 1945 as seen through artists eyes
Dr Anthony Kelly      Wed 25th January 2012
  The first lecture of 2012 was on Britain 1939-1945: Through the eyes of War Artists and was given by Dr Anthony Kelly from Exeter. Most of us are familiar with photographs taken during wartime but not everyone in the audience realised that there had been a national scheme to have a painted record of events.

The War Artists Advisory Committee was set up in the early days of the war by Kenneth Clarke, Director of the National Gallery (aged only 29). It included 401 artists, of whom 10% were women, and has left a legacy of 6000 paintings as part of our national heritage. The main collection in the National Gallery was evacuated to a safe place during the war, which allowed the WAAC paintings to be displayed in a central location to give a sense of solidarity to the population of London. Some 200 paintings were censored and not seen during the war period to avoid lowering public morale. Artists were often dispatched to bomb sites the following day by special permission but showed only material damage, no dead bodies, as this was considered too distressing. Important national events were also painted, such as the evacuation of Dunkirk or images of RAF planes fighting the Battle of Britain, but the artist was not always present for obvious reasons.

Dr Kelly showed many images of what could be regarded as the People’s War, with ordinary people depicted instead of the famous or well-known figures usually seen on canvas. There will be an exhibition to commemorate the bombing of Exeter: “Exeter Blitz 1942 – 70th Anniversary “ at the Guildhall in Exeter from April 26th to May 10th with some interesting contemporary paintings on display.