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Audrey Edwards

Audrey Edwards: Artist’s Statement

Over by Christmas?

This is the phrase which was, we are told, frequently heard in conversations during the late summer and early August of 1914. People did not then realise that it would be 1918 before they were able to celebrate a Christmas without war.

At the time it was known as ‘The Great War’ but it was soon necessary to resort to a numerical title to distinguish it from the next global conflict.

My starting point for this project was the War Memorial in Skipton. I looked at the long list of names, many from the same families, and wondered who they were when they were alive.

I studied the book ‘Craven’s part in the Great War’ and found out about where they had lived and what work they had done before they went to war.

“We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields”

From ‘1n Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae

 

I read some of the poetry written in the war and a line by John McCrae stood out for me:

I decided that I wanted part of my work to be an exploration of the lives of the servicemen before the war.

I also looked at photographs taken on the Western Front which were snapshots of the daily life of soldiers in the trenches. I was impressed with the determination which they showed to ‘make the best of a bad job’ and the creative ways which they organised their cramped living spaces. I saw photos of them reading and writing letters, making artefacts out shell cases and even keeping animals. I have tried to represent this with a series of sketches.

I have also tried to represent the contrast between the Dales countryside which they left behind and the devastation of the battlefields.

Another strand of inspiration was the Bayeux Tapestry which I recently visited. I was impressed by the series of varied images presenting a narrative. I have tried to arrange my ‘snapshots’ to present the story of millions of ordinary people leaving their homes and meeting the challenges of battle and daily life in the trenches.

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