Remembering Blitz through artworks

A new collection of art depicting life during The Blitz and World War II has been commissioned to mark its 80th anniversary.

The 80 pieces of art are based on real-life stories discovered in wartime records available by Ancestry, a company that specialises in family genealogy.

They said the aim is to bring to life the extraordinary everyday lives and efforts of people all over the country and the British spirit that shone through whilst they lived and served on the home front.

The new collection was inspired by the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) which was established at the outbreak of World War II by the UK Government’s Ministry of Information.

Its aim was to compile a comprehensive artistic record of Britain throughout the war and by the end of World War II, included 5,570 pieces.

The original records are held at The National Archives, in Kew.

Russell James, family history expert at Ancestry, said: “As we mark the 80th anniversary of the start of The Blitz, a time of tragedy but also a time that truly demonstrated the great British spirit, we wanted to pay tribute to the original War Artists Advisory Committee by adding our own update to this important collection of works with 80 new pieces. Each inspired by everyday life during The Blitz and throughout World War II.

“By preserving these stories in a new and engaging way we hope we can shine a light on what our families went through during that time and encourage people now to discover their connection to The Blitz and World War II.’’

Using artistic mediums ranging from digital illustration to oil painting, 33 artists from around the UK have created contemporary interpretations of records and images.

London-based artist, Krystal Wong depicts children in the Tilbury Shelter, Commercial Road, East London who amuse themselves by drawing on the wall of their shelter.

Tom Cox’s painting showcases Great Ormand Street hospital staff and children helping build a sand post.

Shana Lohrey details the men of the Fire Service in London whereby after hours of firefighting they stop for a break and Elliot Byrne illustrates the bravery shown by Auxiliary Fireman, Timothy Vincent O’Flaherty, who was awarded with the Civil Gallantry Award for stopping a runaway horse while at work at a fire in Golden Lane, EC on September 16, 1940.

Adébayo Bolaji brings to life Miss Spize Hooker, who was once a singer and cabaret dancer before becoming employed at a Ministry of Supply munitions factory.

Dr William Butler, head of military records at The National Archives, said: “This fascinating project showcases how our historical collections can inspire in such a variety of ways, and has provided such an impressive breadth of responses.

“The Civilian Gallantry Award records are a treasure trove of stories, highlighting the incredible and often dangerous work carried out by individuals working as air raid wardens, first aid workers, firewatchers and messengers during the Second World War.

“They provide vivid details of the exploits and heroic deeds of civilians fighting a war away from the battlefields and highlight the sacrifices so often made on the home front.”

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