Wells Wintemute Coates design for the Cresta shop front.
Tom Heron (the father of Patrick Heron) was born in Bradford in 1890. He had rather artistic connections and unusually for a manufacturer at that time, he was left wing and was in the Guild Socialist League, taking on sweatshop conditions in factories and mixing with left wing artists and politicians. Heron was a silk manufacturer with Cryséde silks (1926-1929) and moved from St Ives, Cornwall to Welwyn Garden City in 1929 to set up Cresta Silks Ltd. For this high class, high fashion brand, he used professional gallery artists as designers, most notably Paul Nash, as well as architects like Wells Wintemute Coates to design their shop fronts and logos and packaging designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer.
Cresta Silks Ltd was a dressmaking firm that specialised in producing high quality silk clothing during the 1930s and 40s, thereafter covering a more general … The early designs were mainly by artists who later became well known-Paul Nash.
Museum Bulletin – Volumes 23–24, 1983
Paul Nash – Phalanx Pattern, for Cresta Silks Ltd, 1930
When WWII broke out silk was requisitioned for parachutes so Heron switched to wool fabric enabling Cresta to continue. The company had to leave its Howardsgate factory which was used by Murphy Radio for essential war work. Cresta Silks went into Welwyn Stores temporarily and Heron went to the Board of Trade as ‘Advisor on Women’s and Children’s Clothing’ where he initiated the famous Utility Clothing scheme for the wartime population. In 1946 the company was able to return to its Howardsgate factory though it would eventually move back to Welwyn Department Stores in 1954.
Welwyn Garden City – Heritage Trust
Patrick Heron – Amaryllis, 1936
Paul Nash – Cherry Orchard, 1932
Paul Nash – Design, for Cresta Silks Ltd, 1930
Aztec – Patrick Heron, for Cresta Silks Ltd, 1947
Graham Sutherland – Web, for Cresta Silks Ltd, 1947
Below is a silk scarf by Patrick Heron, designed in 1948, but produced in 1985. ‘St Ives’ was one of the silk scarfs Patrick made for his father’s company, but Cresta Silks rejected it and didn’t produce it, so it was made as high class merchandise for the Barbican Art Gallery’s 1985 retrospective of Heron.
Patrick Heron – St Ives Design, designed in 1948, produced in 1985
The Omega Workshop was a curious idea set up in 1913 by Roger Fry. It was really following Fry’s rise as a rebel in the art world. Though hard to think of as controversial now, in 1910 he held the first British exhibition of the Post-Impressionists to some upraw.
It featured Gauguin, Van Gogh and Matisse. He then followed this with another exhibition in 1912 of Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. These exhibitions are noted with contemporary accounts of Slade art teacher, Henry Tonks, forbidding his students from going to it as it might corrupt their mind; and it did just that, for many of them like Mark Gertler and Dora Carrington it changed their styles of painting and bought them into the Bloomsbury groups orbit.
The Omega Workshop Studios
The Omega Workshop was an attempt to celebrate handmade items, without being too rooted in the Arts and Crafts tradition. Though the link is undeniable, the decorations of the items was not precise and Omega was more like the British version of the Mingei movement that happened later in Japan. On visiting the Omega studios in 1913 Yone Noguchi noted that Roger Fry was “attempting to create an applied art just as (William) Morris did” and that the studio was using Cubist motifs and designs, of abstract shapes in the fabrics and wood marquetry.
Room at 4 Berkeley Street, Painted by Omega Workshops.
What Roger Fry brought to the workshop was an inquisitive nature on designs from Africa as well as encouraging the artists to look at the works of other modern painters like Kandinsky. The main success of all these abstractions is that the studios were an area were the artists could play with ideas, as well as an exhibition space for their outcomes. They would give themselves a basic education on the method of the craft, say rug weaving, and then look at the limitations of the process and work designs around this.
Though the projects originally included Wyndham Lewis, he went off to explore the other outcome of European cubism – futurism. The main contenders were Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Simon Albert Bussy, Roald Kristian, Edward Wolfe, Edward McKnight Kauffer, Frederick Etchells, Winifred Gill, Henri Doucet, Nina Hamnett.
The rug (below), and used in this postcard (above) was made for Lady Hamilton, by Royal Wilton Carpets, for Omega Workshops by Vanessa Bell.
Vanessa Bell – Rug for Lady Hamilton, 1914
As the studios printed and made their own publicity material, they also started to print books. One if their earliest was by Arthur Clutton-Brock’s Simpson’s Choice, 1915. It had printed boards with a geometric design and woodcuts by Roald Kristian. Clutton-Brock worked as a reviewer and critic for The Times and was a personal friend of Roger Fry, it was this type of journalist the workshops needed on their side.
Soon after Leonard and Virginia Woolf were looking into hand-printing and bought a box of type blocks, a printing machine, and where printing their own books (though later they did employ a typesetter). They featured the prints of artists at the Omega Studios, though they were printed on the table at Hogarth House, the close connections ties them to the Omega Workshops.
In March 1917, the Woolfs walked along Farringdon Street, London, and purchased a printing machine, materials and an instruction booklet from Excelsior Printing Supply Company. The purchase was impulsive, but they had been discussing the idea of setting up a printing press since autumn 1916. Although the Woolfs were enthusiastic and absorbed by the work, their first publication shows some signs of amateurism such as irregular spacing and blotted ink. As Hermione Lee highlights, however, the Woolfs quickly developed into professional printers.
It took two and a half months to print 150 copies of Two Stories, which was released for sale in July 1917. Because the printing process was all-consuming, Virginia did not compose ‘The Mark on the Wall’ until the printing of Leonard’s story was complete. The 32 pages were sewn together and bound with paper covers by hand. Being bound on an ad-hoc basis, different covers exist: the British Library’s copy is bound in a blue weave-textured material.
Below is one of the Woolf’s early books, from Two Stories, The Mark on the Wall, by Virginia Woolf, with woodcuts by Dora Carrington.
The Mark on the Wall, by Virginia Woolf, 1917
The pottery that Omega originally decorated was bought in, but soon he asked a pot asked someone to make pots for them. “He contacted George Schenck , a potter at Mitcham , Surrey , and tried to get him to throw the simple shapes he wanted . The potter was unable to alter his long – practised throwing and Roger realized he would have to learn to do it himself “. Then on Schenck gave Fry pottery lessons were he experimented with designs and glazes, rather than using household paint applied onto vases. Later in 1915 when Fry designed a table service production was moved to Carter & Co, Poole, (later to become Carter Stabler and Adams, and Poole Pottery). At this time Carter & Co were making designs for garden pots for Liberties and were a high class artisanal pottery. Many of the works potted had a chinese influence.
When it comes to the furniture, many companies were employed to make pieces, for different uses, the marquetry cabinet here John Joseph Kallenborn.
Dryad made the cane seating and the chairs that were later painted by the workshop members.
I attach a write up by Roger Fry here, not to offend, as it is contemporary language about historical artifacts, but rather to show how many inspirations Fry was feeding off and his aims.
If you look at a pot or a woven cloth made by a negro savage of the Congo with the crude instruments at his disposal, you may begin by despising it for its want of finish. If you put them beside a piece of modern Sevres china or a velvet brocade from a Lyons factory, you will perhaps begin by congratulating yourself upon the wonders of modern industrial civilization, and think with pity of the poor savage. But if you will allow the poor savage’s handiwork a longer contemplation you will find something in it of greater value and significance than in the Sevres china or Lyons velvet. It will become apparent that the negro enjoyed making his pot or cloth, that he pondered delightedly over the possibilities of his craft and that his enjoyment finds expression in many ways; and as these become increasingly apparent to you, you share his joy in creation, and in that forget the roughness of the result. On the other hand the modern factory products were made almost entirely for gain, no other joy than that of money making entered into their creation. You may admire the skill which has been revealed in this, but it can communicate no disinterested delight. The artist is the man who creates not only for need but for joy, and in the long run mankind will not be content without sharing that joy through the possession of real works of art, however humble or unpretentious they may be.
The Omega Workshops, Limited is a group of artists who are working with the object of allowing free play to the delight in creation in the making of objects for common life. They refuse to spoil the expressive quality of their work by sand-papering it down to a shop finish, in the belief that the public has at last seen through the humbug of the machine-made imitation of works of art. They endeavour to satisfy practical necessities in a workmanlike manner, but not to flatter by the pretentious elegance of the machine-made article. They try to keep the spontaneous freshness of primitive or peasant work while satisfying the needs and expressing the feelings of the modern cultivated man. ROGER FRY, Director, Omega Workshops, Ltd.
Room decorated by Omega Workshops for the Cadena Cafe, 59 Westbourne Grove, London. The rugs, attributed by Roger Fry but likely designed by Frederick Etchells with chairs made for Roger Fry by Dryad.
Henry Harris’s house in Bedford Square by Omega Workshops.
Maybe part of the biggest failures of the group was the building they set themselves up in. George Bernard Shaw’s concern voiced to Fry in May 1914 was that “you need a shop window, Morris found that out. It is all very well to live in a quiet London Square and look like an Orthopaedic Institute, but the price you pay is that your business remains a secret of a clique.“
Some time ago I was asked the location of Essex Farmyard print by John Aldridge. This lithograph was made for the Society of Painter-Printmakers and exhibited as number 27 in the catalogue for the 1948 exhibition. The key to the identification was finding a painting of the same view while writing a post-script for Lucie’s book. It was a painting from 1939 of Grove Farm, Farmyard, Oxen End, Little Bardfield.
John Aldridge – The Grove Farmyard, 1939
The oil painting above was exhibited at Leicester Galleries, 1940, as with the watercolour study below you cans see the farmyard and the sheds, when printed the image is reversed and that’s why the print is a mirror image.
John Aldridge – (The Grove Farmyard) Essex Farmyard, 1948
Below is a photograph of the house today and part of the farmyard. This is from the local historical society:
Grove Farm was owned by the Adams family who owned other properties in Oxen End. An accident with a steam engine cable severely damaged Mr Adams’ legs. They built a bungalow and then sold Grove House.
The Crossman-Adams family owned the property as well as Crossman House in Braintree. Some of the family still live in Great Bardfield.
In 1969 Mrs Tennant of the Tennant brewery family owned Grove Farm.
Grove Farm, from Google Maps.
This is a drawing in the Fry Gallery collection, likely from 1939 when Aldridge was studying for the painting.
Most people have in their mind and idea of a David Hockney painting but I was surprised when I encountered his early work. Before his unique style came in he was imitating artists that had come before him with help from his tutors.
At Bradford College of Art he was taught perspective and painting by Derek Stafford and printmaking by Norman Stevens (1937-88). Other students at the college were Derek Boshier, Pauline Boty, Norman Stevens, David Oxtoby and John Loker. Hockney hitchhiked to London and toured the galleries absorbing new art and styles. In 1957 he got into the Royal College of Art and the rest is history.
David Hockney – Bolton Junction, Eccleshill, 1956
David Hockney – Bolton Junction, Eccleshill, 1956
David Hockney – Moorside Road, Fagley, 1956
David Hockney – The Village Street, Kirton, near Felixstowe, Suffolk, 1957
This artical appeared in Lilliput magazine in 1944 by Thomas Burke. It is a brief biography of Simeon Solomon; the artist rejected by society because of his conviction for sodomy in 1873 (sentenced to Hard labour) and in ’74, when he was arrested in Paris for soliciting men and spent three months in a Paris jail.
From a wealthy family his brother Abraham was an artist as well as his sister Rebecca. His lifestyle bought him to alcoholism and he became a vagrant despite his family connections. He was a beautiful and talented young man.
Nobody pays much attention to the work of pavement artists, or to the “artists” themselves. So nobody, passing along Bayswater Road in the first years of this century, paid much attention to a blotchy, unkempt screever and his coloured chalk drawings. Nobody even noticed that the drawings had an assured ease not usual in the work of screevers. Pennies in the cap were few.
Simeon Solomon – Bacchus, 1867
But if people had been better informed they would surely have given more than a casual glance to the man who had been hung in the Academy for twelve consecutive years, and had been an admired friend of Burne-Jones, Walter Pater and Swinburne. For Simeon Solomon was an artist whose name appears, always with epithets of regret and compassion, in many volumes of the art and literary memoirs of the later nineteenth century.
A queer story, his; one of those stories of wreckage of bright hopes of which the nineteenth century holds so many; among them Thomas Dermody, John Mitford, Charles Whitehead, James Thomson (B.V.) and Ernest Dowson.
With most of them the cause was drink; for the drink of the nineteenth century was of more fiery and mordant temper than the drink of this century which, if it has fewer geniuses, has fever stories of wreckage. With Simeon Solomon the causes were many and obscure.
He was born in Shoreditch, son of a Jewish hatter. Drawing and painting came instinctively to him at an early age. At 15 he entered the Royal Academy Schools, and was first hung at the annual exhibition when he was 17. The subject of that first picture, like the subjects of most of his pictures, was taken from the Old Testament, and its manner was that now known as Pre-Raphaelite. At this time he is described as a handsome graceful figure, with red hair, an exquisite profile, and brilliant eyes. His appearance alone made people notice him, and when his work was seen he won the acclamation of many of the alert, among them Swinburne and Pater; white Burne-Jones, writing years latter in a perhaps over-generous mood, said that “Simeon Solomon was the greatest artist of us all.”
Simeon Solomon – The Magic Crystal, 1878
Like many of the artists of that group he had a literary gift., and a rare little pamphlet of his – A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep – May sometimes be turned up by the curious. Swinburne gave his work an enthusiastic review; Pater too admired it. Written in the rather inflated prose used by De Quincey, it records the wanderings of a spirit conducted through a land where he sees the figure of Love in different stages of suffering, caused by the wrongs and abuses inflicted on man. For some years Solomon was a vogue and a figure in intelligent circles. He was often Pater’s guest at Oxford he visited Lord Houghton (Monckton Milnes); stayed with Oscar Browning, then a master at Eton; and was much seen with Swinburne.
But he didn’t want his gifts or his personal beauty. He threw them to the dogs. The rot set in when he was about thirty. What caused it is not clear, but at that time it was not drink. It was something more serious; something that caused Oscar Browning , when he was talking him on a tour of the Italian galleries, to part company with him and come home alone. There are stories of drugs and of indiscreet aberrations. Unpleasant elements began to appear in his work, notably in those presenting ideas of love. Also, it became coarse and careless in treatment, and he repeated his subjects. Friends warned him against prostituting his genius. He ignored them.
His aberrations soon became too extreame even for Bohemia. Men began to withdraw from him, and his name began to be spoken in polite circles only in a pitying murmur. Swinburne not only broke with him; he spoke of him as “a thing abhorrent to man, woman and beast.”
The end of his vogue came as abruptly as it began. He had some fifteen years if success, prosperity and respect. Then he turned his back on it all, and deliberately lived the rest of his life as an exile, among the social outcasts.
Simeon Solomon – Mrs Fanny Eaton, 1859
His conduct eventually led to a term in prison, but in prison he wrought no cure. His family got him into a mental home; that, too, was ineffectual. When he came out, many efforts were made to reclaim him. They were futile. By that time he had added drink to his other indulgences and seemed beyond hope. He was set up with clothes, a studio and a decent home. He never used the studio. He sold only the clothes and furniture and returned to the gutter.
Dealers were still willing to buy his work, and one or two supplied him with the necessary materials and small advances, though they could never rely on actually getting the drawings. But though he had lost all moral sense, he did not lose his good human feeling. For long periods he was an inmate of St. Giles Workhouse, and when he did deliver a drawing and collect the money, he would take some of the old workhouse boys for the day and bring them all home tight.
He was not above sponging on successful artists with whom he had once been equal, and there is a story that, having successfully touched a prosperous artist and noticed the rich contents of his home, he repaid the loan by coming back with one of his gutter friends, a professional burglar, and breaking in. But he and the burglar were both so drunk, and made so much noise, that they roused the artist. He came down, and found Simeon Soloman with the dining room silver dropping out of his pockets. He contented himself with kicking the once famous artist down the steps. For a time Solomon sold matches in the gutter at Whitechapel, but no more successful at that than as a pavement artist.
The decline and fall of a sensitive spirit is usually pitiful, but Soloman needs no pity. In his outcaste state he was quite happy, and seemed to enjoy the shabby freedom of rags and irresponsibility.
A friend of mine, one of the few living men who met him, told me of his first sight of him in the closing years. My friend, then a young man, saw a drawing in a Regent Street print shop, and was struck by it and bought it for three guineas. He had never heard of the artists, and asked the dealer who was this Simeon Solomon. The dealer said “If you look through the door you’ll see him.” My friend looked out to Regent Street, but could see no artist. He saw a ragged, decrepit old waif of the streets looking in the window, but nobody like an artist. He said “I don’t see anybody.” The dealer said “There – at the window. That’s Simeon Solomon, friend of Burne-Jones and Rossetti and Swinburne. He’s waiting till you’ve gone to come in and touch me for five bob on account.”
Somehow or other he supported this submerged and vagrant life for thirty years. He lingered on in drink and degradation till he was 64; til all those who had known him had forgotten him or presumed him dead. Then, one night in 1905, he was found unconscious on the pavement in Holborn, and was carried to his old home, St Giles Workhouse, and in its infirmary he died.
Tributes, to the genius which he threw away, are many. Even the respectable Oscar Browning, a reputed social snob, could say of this ruined outcast “He was a genius both in art and writing, and his name deserves to be remembered… I am proud to acknowledge that he was one of my friends.”
When photography became commercially available, it was almost as if painting was redundant. Why should artists try to paint real life if there was a machine that could depict it? As a reaction, this was when Impressionism came along, followed by fauvism, surrealism and vorticism, all movements about subverting reality. However there were some photographers who used the camera and the subject as if they were painting, and one is Peter Henry Emerson. He set up pastoral ideals and posed people in the same way a painter would. The photographs were printed as photogravure, a photograph etched on to a metal plate. With this technique Emerson’s pictures could have a flatter look to them when printed with grain.
Peter Henry Emerson – Cattle on the Marshes, 1886
Emerson was born on La Palma Estate, a sugar plantation near Encrucijada, Cuba belonging to his American father, Henry Ezekiel Emerson and British mother, Jane, née Harris Billing. He spent his early years in Cuba on his father’s estate. During the American Civil War he spent some time at Wilmington, Delaware, but moved to England in 1869, after the death of his father. He was schooled at Cranleigh School where he was a noted scholar and athlete. He subsequently attended King’s College London, before switching to Clare College, Cambridge in 1879 where he earned his medical degree in 1885.
Peter Henry Emerson – Poling the Marsh Hay, 1885
Peter Henry Emerson – Crusoe’s Island, 1887
Peter Henry Emerson – Coming Home From The Marshes, 1885
Peter Henry Emerson – Towing the Reed, 1885
Peter Henry Emerson – Ricking the Reed, 1885
Peter Henry Emerson – Haymaker with Rake, 1888
Peter Henry Emerson – Setting the Bow Net, 1885
Peter Henry Emerson – Confessions, 1887
Peter Henry Emerson – A Fisherman at Home, 1887
Peter Henry Emerson – At the Grindstone-A Suffolk Farmyard, 1888
I thought this review of the London Group Show was of note as it features so many wonderful painters. I have found some of the paintings on show to illustrate it. Originally published in the magazine, Colour, 1915.
Harold Gilman – Leeds Market, 1913
London Group – The third Exhibition of this group is now on exhibition at the Goupil Salon is one of in which a certain sense of gaiety and experiment is to be seen. The spirit of adventure is also alive, and the group being one where members are not subject to the tyranny of a selecting committee, one notices that with a free hand these artists can give liberal expression to their point of view. There is much good painting in various Styles, and Little that is bad add, while a high level of excellence is in evidence throughout the show. W. B. Adeney show several canvases in which the design is obviously the first aim of the artist. In most cases he is successful. Thérèse Lessore is also greatly interested in the designing of her canvases, but colour also plays an important part. Harmonies of Pale colours, that always good colours, together with a simplified rendering of the figures which people her canvases, make for a series of distinguished works. As decorations they are complete.
Christopher R. W. Nevinson – Les Guerre de Trous, 1914
Figure work and portraits at this exhibition are few, and of the latter nana satisfactory. Of the former, Thérèse Lessore, who we have already mentioned, Mary Godwin, and Horace Brodzky, contribute. The last mentioned painter shows a decoration in which three nudes energetically struggle with a large stone. This work is evidently a sketch for a mural decoration to be painted on a large scale. Mary Godwin’s subjects display a searching after luminosity and texture.
Mark Gertler – Creation of Eve
R.P. Bevan sends a fine landscape “The Corner House,” which shows that he has learnt match from Cezanne without losing his own individuality. The excessive pink and mauve of his earlier work now makes place for dignified colour. His design has significance and weight. Harold Gillman’s best picture here, the interior of a fruit market, is a beautiful harmony in greens, whilst Charles Ginner expresses the greyness of things in a fine painting of Leeds Canal. Mark Gertler shows two intoxications of colour which we are sure were painted in the true spirit of joie de vivre. One piece of sculpture alone is on view, and that by C.R.W. Nevinson.
For the nation – A marble statue by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska has recently been presented to the South Kensington Museum, together with a number of this sculptors drawings.
Frederick Porter, a young painter at present residing in London and a New Zealander by birth, is a colourist of considerable merit. Porter studied at the Academy Julian in Paris from 1907 to 1910. He has also painted with success the landscape of Barbizon, particularly Moret, made famous through the paintings of Tisely, and he has painted for some time in Etaples. In 1911 Porter came to London, where he has exhibited on several occasions at the London Salon. Here his work received considerable attention from discriminating critics, and as he is still a young man and intensely serious, we may expect to find augmented interest in his new work.
Two cartoons, entitled “A Place in the Sun” and “A Controller of Traffic” by Will Dyson, have been purchased by the Felton Bequest for the Melbourne National Gallery.
Randolph Schwabe – Head of an Old Woman
Christopher R. W. Nevinson – Bursting Shell, 1915
Artists on show:
William Ratcliffe – The Old Mill Charles Ginner – The Angel, Islington Adrian Paul Allinson – Casino de Paris Adrian Paul Allinson – Mauve and Green Christopher R. W. Nevinson – The Bridge at Marseilles William Ratcliffe – The Mill Stream William Bernard Adeney – The Spruce William Ratcliffe – Interior William Bernard Adeney – The Road through Woods Mark Gertler – Swing Boat William Bernard Adeney – Man and Horse Charles Ginner – From Trinidad Thérèse Lessore – An Old Woman Stanisława de Karłowska – White Paintings Thérèse Lessore – The Cyclist Stanisława de Karłowska – Still life Harold Gilman – Portrait Harold Gilman – Interior Harold Gilman – Still Life Adrian Paul Allinson – Queen´s Hall Stanisława de Karłowska – Woodlands Horace Brodzky – The Little Mourner Christopher R. W. Nevinson – A Deserted Trench Thérèse Lessore – King Street Robert Polhill Bevan – A Hillside, Devon John Northcote Nash – Pine Woods Horace Brodzky – Portrait Mary Godwin – The Bedroom Mary Godwin – Fish Walter Taylor – Brighton Walter Taylor – The Boat House Randolph Schwabe – Mrs. Randolph Schwabe Paul Nash – Tree Tops Paul Nash – A Sunset Paul Nash – Moonrise over Orchard Paul Nash – Tryon´s Garden Mary Godwin – Ways and Means Douglas Fox Pitt – Brighton Front Douglas Fox Pitt – Shoreham Randolph Schwabe – Portrait Charles Ginner – Surrey Landscape John Northcote Nash – Landscape John Northcote Nash – Steam Ploughing Horace Brodzky – Expulsion Sylvia Gosse – Versailles Sylvia Gosse – The Toilet Sylvia Gosse – Busch Bilderbogen Sylvia Gosse – The Answer that turneth away Wrath Sylvia Gosse – Sussex Meadows Randolph Schwabe – Landscape in Devonshire William Bernard Adeney – Dividing Roads William Bernard Adeney – House and Trees Thérèse Lessore – The Canal Bridge Stanisława de Karłowska – The Lane Stanisława de Karłowska – From an Upper Window Mary Godwin – Still Life Mary Godwin – Ewelme Alms House Robert Polhill Bevan – The Corner House Robert Polhill Bevan – Tattersall´s Harold Gilman – My Lonely Bed Thérèse Lessore – The Confectioner´s Shop Adrian Paul Allinson – Cotswolds, Spring Walter Taylor – Interior Charles Ginner – The Timber Yard, Leeds Charles Ginner – Crown Point, Leeds John Northcote Nash – Threshings John Northcote Nash – Woods Adrian Paul Allinson – Still Life Horace Brodzky – Decoration Horace Brodzky – Cefalu Mark Gertler – Fruit Stall William Ratcliffe – London Douglas Fox Pitt – In the Dome, Brighton
In search of some eye-catching imagery to boost morale surrounding US involvement in WWI, the US military commissioned the English-born photographer Arthur Mole and his assistant John Thomas to make a series of extraordinary group portraits. Between 1915 and 1921, with the dutiful help of thousands of servicemen and staff from various US military camps, the duo produced around thirty of the highly patriotic images, which Mole labelled “living photographs”.
Mole (1889-1983) was born in Lexden, a suburb of Colchester, Essex but when he was 14 years old his family emigrated to America, where he became a citizen. He became a commercial and portrait photographer, came up with the idea of human photographs. These required the construction of a tower for the camera to be placed on and then with a megaphone Mole and his assistant John Thomas would move the troops into picture formation.
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – The Human American Eagle, 12,500 Men
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – The Statue of Liberty, 18,000 Men
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – 27th Division Insignia, 10,000 Men
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – US Shield, 30,000 Men
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – Liberty Bell, 25,000 Men
Arthur Mole and John Thomas – WW1 Horse Memorial, 650 Men
Here are two more, I think they are by Mole, but I am not sure.
This is a book from 1964, of children playing on the streets. The photos are by Julia Trevelyan Oman and the text (designed to read like observed opinions) was by Bryan Stanley Johnson. The whole thing reminds me of the Mass Observation movement of the 1930s. It is curious to see the streets of what I can only assume is East London and the children looking happy enough finding ways to entertain themselves. It also brought to mind this video called Through the Hole in the Wall.
Looking in magazines during the First World War, there were adverts from tailors to domestic products all taking on a patriotic flare, as well as appeals for money to help various charities. There isn’t a great deal to say about it all, other than it looks to be profiteering somehow. The child above in the Pears soap advert looks to be sitting on a coffin with wreaths, very odd.
As the years go on the adverts become a little bit more distressing, the advert for Pears’ Soap again just is bizarre, I can’t help but think of the mothers who couldn’t afford it and wondered if they were letting their sons down after they had been slaughtered.
Good-bye dear, off to get blown up by the Germans, You won’t forget to send me some Wright’s Coal Tar Soap.
The charity adverts here also seem remarkably bossy. Have you helped yet?
The Samaritan Free Hospital was for Women and they found themselves with less funding.