Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Art of War

My characters enjoy spending time with real people, so it’s understandable that ambitious Jack Wyndham is thrilled to meet powerful ex-pat Canadian millionaire, British MP, and newspaper baron, Sir Max Aitken, who becomes Lord Beaverbrook in 1916. A self-made man, Aitken admires Jack’s cleverness and business savvy, but also recognizes his artistic talents, and hires him to be one his war artists.

"A Copse, Evening" by A.Y. Jackson. Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum
Farsighted and always a staunch Canadian, Aitken established and financed the Canadian War Records Office in 1916 in order to document Canada’s war efforts in film and photographs, despite initial opposition from the War Office. Troops and other personnel, like nurses, were not allowed to have cameras overseas, so these official photographers produced vital historical records.

"War in the Air" by C.R.W. Nevinson, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum
Beaverbrook also established the Canadian War Memorials Fund, hiring artists to capture Canadians on the home front – in the fields and factories – as well as in the trenches. Nearly 1000 paintings were created by artists such as A.Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, and Arthur Lismer, who would later become members of the Group of Seven. The “War in the Air” painting above depicts Canada’s and Britain’s top Ace, Billy Bishop, in combat.

After decades of lying sadly neglected and unseen in the vaults of the National Art Gallery, these treasures are now housed at the Canadian War Museum, where some are on permanent display.

In Elusive Dawn you can join Jack Wyndham for a country house weekend at Max Aitken’s estate, Cherkely Court.

No comments:

Post a Comment