Recording Britain - Vol. 1

Recording Britain - Vol. 1

Recording Britain - Vol. 1

Recording Britain - Vol. 1

Excerpt

One of the first appeals of importance to reach the Pilgrim Trust in the autumn of 1939 was from Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith, writing on behalf of the Minister of Labour and National Service, by whom he had been appointed Chairman of a Committee on the Employment of Artists in Wartime. In addition to engaging artists to portray features and incidents of the work of the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Air Ministry, it was also proposed that artists should be invited to make a number of topographical water-colour drawings of places and buildings of characteristic national interest, particularly those exposed to the danger of destruction by the operations of war. The project came to be called 'Recording the changing face of Britain'. Quite apart from the havoc wrought by the enemy and by our own necessary defensive measures, and despite the protective work of the National Trust, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, and similar bodies, the outward aspect of Britain was changing all too quickly before the War at the sinister hands of improvers and despoilers.

The Trustees responded to the appeal of the Ministry with grants which ultimately amounted to £6,000, and the entire administration of this fund was handed over to a small committee consisting of Mr. P. H. Jowett, R.W. S. (Principal of the Royal College of Art), Sir Kenneth Clark, K.C.B. (Director of the National Gallery), and Mr. W. Russell Flint, R.A. (representing the Royal Academy). Mr. Arnold Palmer was appointed Secretary. It is to these four gentlemen that all credit is due for the success of the scheme. They chose the artists, agreed the subjects, and made all other arrangements. On behalf of my colleagues and myself I acknowledge with gratitude the debt we owe to them, and the debt the country owes to them, for their skill and devotion. They showed their wisdom in concentrating early on the coastal counties. As the War went on these areas became more and more strictly controlled. Many recordings which were made in 1940 could not have been made later. All the coastal counties of England except Northumberland, Durham, and Lincolnshire were included.

Accommodation for the work of the Committee was provided in the National Gallery, by the kindness of the authorities, and here also exhibitions of the pictures were held in three successive summers. In addition exhibitions toured the provinces under the auspices of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (now the Arts Council of Great Britain), and of the British Institute of Adult Education, with the co-operation of the Art Exhibitions Bureau. In December 1943 . . .

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