Review: Walk and Talk

Upper Sixth Art Scholar, Nell Hargrove, looks back at the ‘Walk and Talk’ event in the Mount House Gallery by Edward Twohig, Head of Art. 

On Monday evening, Mr Twohig took an eager audience on a ‘Walk & Talk’ around the Mount House Gallery. We were presented with an engaging story of art from 1918, which had been so deeply affected by the Great War. Mr Twohig eloquently explained fascinating connections between works of War artists and later 20th Century artists, such as Lucian Freud and Frances Bacon. As we walked around the gallery, we saw Mr Twohig’s collection of Samuel Palmer’s works. These serene, delicate prints of landscapes and still life were in contrast to the harsh paintings and pastel depictions of gruesome war scenes. This portrayed the drastic change in what artists chose to depict from before World War I to afterwards.

The exhibition shows the War through an artistic perspective, which is less commonly seen because, for my generation, the impact of war is more often studied through literature rather than art. However, Mr Twohig has created a display of work that captures the viewer through the thoughtful insight of the War artists. His vast knowledge on the displayed art allowed the audience to understand the unusual connections because we were given the background and context to the artists’ lives and work: Dr Henry Tonks, David Jones, Sir William Orpen, Christopher Nervinson, Paul Nash, Mark Gertler and John Singer Sargent.

Through the example of Mark Gertler, we learned that the War changed people, not only with regards to their art, but also their outlook on life. And also Sargent who painted beautiful women before the Great War started but once he became an Official War Artist he could not bring himself to go back to his previous subjects because he believed they were trivial and unimportant. Like many other War artists, his work became dispassionate in subject matter and distressing in visual representation. All the artists, in fact, became numb to what they witnessed because their job was to observe. This was a large reason of why so many artists died so soon after the war; they couldn’t compartmentalise their traumatic experiences.

Thank you to Mr Twohig for organising such a powerful exhibition, which portrays an informative yet intimate display of works from exactly 100 years ago.

Nell Hargrove (IH U6)

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