I was taken by surprise the other day when, listening to the radio in the morning, the announcer rather casually mentioned that on that particular day 75 years ago ( 3rd September, 1939), war was declared between Great Britain and Germany. A momentous anniversary, and once again we look at just some of the ways in which the arts have both documented and reflected on such cataclysmic times.
South Australian Ivor Hele was one of the finest of all war artists stationed with the Australian military throughout the Second World War, working mainly in North Africa and New Guinea. He is also one our most most prolific war artists, with over 600 works in the collection of the Australian War Memorial, celebrated here in this fascinating catalogue which covers his World War II work as well as the time he spent documenting Australian troops during the Korean War. Great art, remarkable achievement.
Projecting Britain at war : the national character in British World War II films by Jeremy Havardi (ebook)
Anyone with an interest in British cinema will instantly recognise the central position the Second World War had in what many see as the golden era of English film, from the 1940s through to the 50s/60s. This detailed study charts the changing nature of these films, from the simplistic, morale building patriotism of films made during the conflict to more thoughtful later representations of the war and the people who fought it, shaded by the wisdom of hindsight and changing social and political attitudes.
This absorbing and powerfully illustrated volume takes a particularly interesting approach to art made during the Second World War, focussing not just on official war art but on the full range of artistic practice happening around the world during the years of conflict. The author argues strongly that art made during this period, “official” or otherwise, needs to be given its due rather than dismissed as either propaganda or in some way unworthy because of its subject matter. The extraordinary images she has collected here argue her case extremely well.
You can listen at home to this lovely selection of popular music from the period, designed to lift spirits in the darkest of days; courtesy of the Naxos Music Library
And I just couldn’t resist the caption to this photo……