Thursday, 24 October 2013
Snapshots from the Exhibition at Fleetwood Library (Lancashire, UK) until 11th November 2013
Mary Riter Hamilton was the inspiration behind the creation of this weblog and the inclusion in my Poetry Exhibitions of a section entitled "Inspirational Women of WW1".
Mary was not a young woman when she undertook the journey to the Western Front in 1919, travelling to a barren and hostile land in order to paint what she saw so that we would have a lasting record of the horrors and devastation of the First World war.
Mary spent three years living in a tin hut among the Chinese workers who cleared away the mess left at the end of the war. She painted several hundred paintings, became ill and lost the sight of one eye. It was difficult to find food because most of the local people had been evacuated and there was little left. At first Mary was looked after by a Canadian Regiment but when they left after six months, she was left to her own devices.
The Canadian War Amputees Association (www.waramps.ca) commissioned Mary, who was by then a very well known and respected artist who had travelled to Europe to study and had painted scenes of Canada to take to Europe and scenes of Europe to take back to Canada. Don't forget there was no radio or television, etc. back then and people did not travel like they do today so that was one of the few says of sharing information.
At the end of her time in Europe, Mary exhibited her work in Paris and London. When she returned home, she donated her paintings to the National Archives of Canada where they are currently kept. You can view some of her amazing work on their website: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca
In this section of the exhibition at Fleetwood Library, you will also find reference to the trawlers which were requisitioned as minesweepers by the Royal Navy.
I should like to thank Margaret Stetz, who is Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware, for her continuing support and encouragement of my project.
North Albert Street
ENTRY FREE - usual Library opening hours.