Oil on Board, 10 x 15 inches
With all the excellent documentaries and docu-dramas on the telly about the First World War, I thought it would be apropos to post this painting I did way back in the '80's. I set up the still-life with two postcards sent to my nana from my grandad during WW1, together with his war medals. The sepia photograph shows my grandad in his army uniform, and my nana together, Harry and Elizabeth Hutchings.
This was really a labour of love, painting such intricate details in oils, especially the stamp and the writing on the postcard, which reads "Dear Lizzie, This will give you an idea of what our huts are like, of course you can see it is me. With love, Harry" and at the top "I have sent one to Sally", my nana's sister. Just a tiny snapshot of 'normal' life from that very abnormal time.
I know little about my grandad's WW1 experiences, only that he was 30 when he enlisted, and was listed as missing in 1917, but returned home in 1918 and was completely loused up, in the true sense of the word, and when my Uncle Arthur, two years old at the time and having not seen him before, said "what's that" on seeing his father.
It's only now, with my grandad long dead, that I would love to have talked to him at length about his Great War experiences. Like most of the lucky soldiers who lived to tell the tale, he never did speak of it, and being from that austere time, he took his memories to his grave. If only he had written it down. As a boy of course, I had no interest in what he did, but now, as an adult, with the awareness of mortality, I would dearly love to know exactly what he went through in the hell of the trenches. Using the BBC's iwonder link, I hope to find out something of where he went, but nothing will ever come close to hearing the words from my grandad's mouth. A lost memory.
Here's a pencil drawing I did of him back in 1982, from a photograph taken not long before he died.
Harry Hutchings, born 1884