Friday, 3 January 2014

Mary Riter Hamilton - Canadian Artist - Inspirational Woman of WW1

I have mentioned Mary previously in this weblog, but exchanging messages yesterday with Marianne Fevrier (apologies Marianne - I still can't fathom how to add the accents!) reminded me that I need to mention the Chinese Labour Corps who worked so tirelessly during and after WW1.

What has the Chinese Labour Corps to do with Mary Riter Hamilton?  In 1919 at the request of the Canadian War Amputees Association, Mary travelled from her native Canada where she was an artist of world renown to France in order to paint the Aftermath of the conflict.   She lived for three years in a tin hut among the members of the Chinese Labour Corps who were clearing away the mess left by the war.  It is difficult to imagine what it must have looked like after the Armistice when we British travel to France and Belgium to the site of the Western Front.  We see the green fields and well tended cemeteries - with grateful thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for their work - and we cannot really imagine what it must have looked like at the end of 1918.

Mary Riter Hamilton's work is a start reminder.   Mary sacrificed  her health and lost the sight of one eye during the three years she painted the Aftermath - there was very little food as local people had been evacuated and the water table had become contaminated very early on in the war.

Mary's work is now in the Canadian National Archives and www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

To find out more about the Canadian War Amps Association please see www.waramps.ca

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