Saturday, 18 June 2016

Day 13 - Favourite Artist

Evelyn Dunbar

Evelyn Dunbar

I don't really have a favourite artist so apologies if I mislead you. What I would like to do is to share with you an artist whom I admire very much and does not get the recognition that I think she deserves.

Evelyn Dunbar was one of the few female artists working for the War Artists' Advisory Committee. She was sent out to record the contribution of British women, especially the Women's Land Army, to the war effort. It seems to me extraordinarily far-sighted of the British government to recruit some of the greatest British artists of the 1940s to compile a kind of artistic documentary of wartime Britain. Edward Ardizzone, John Piper, Edward Ravilious and Graham Sutherland all worked for the Committee.

It's a shame that Evelyn Dunbar is not as well known as many of her artistic contemporaries. Being a woman certainly did not help and she was, by all accounts, a very modest and self-effacing person who avoided the limelight. She was most happy living in the Kent countryside and tending to her garden. I think she easily fits into the 'pastoral' tradition of English painters like John Constable, Samuel Palmer or John Nash and she should be regarded in that light.

I've included some examples of her work below and then provided a list of books and websites if you want to know more.

Just click on the images to see them in more detail.

Land Army Girls Going to Bed

Baling Hay

A Canning Demonstration

Dairy Training

Men Stooking and Women Learning How to Stook

Learning to Milk with Artificial Udders

Potato Sorting

By the way, I found a derelict potato sorter at a Nursery in North Norfolk a few months ago - rusting away and forgotten. Here's a picture I took of it. I might try and convince them to allow me to renovate it.

Women's Auxiliary Air Fleet Store

Preparing for a Gas Attack

Gill Clarke Evelyn Dunbar: War and Country

Gill Clarke The Women's Land Army: A Portrait

If any of my Norfolk friends are reading this - both titles are available through the Library Service

Listen to Gill Clarke talk about Dunbar on Radio 4's "Woman's Hour"

A piece in the Independent on neglected British women artists during the Second World War (I suppose that means all of them)

A website to accompany an exhibition on Dunbar at Pallant House.

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