Kennington met with Dickey as early as December 1939 and expressed his views about the scheme, reported by Dickey at (2). Kennington felt that official artists should be predominantly younger men, of service age and experience. He reported that in the First World War, younger artists were exploited, while more established artists enjoyed greater privileges.
That month, the Ministry of Information commissioned eight pastels at 25 guineas each. These were the first of hundreds of works portraits. At first Kennington was employed directly by the MoI but in 1940 he began to be employed by the Air Ministry, although he found this situation less satisfactory: "P[eake]'s focus is too narrow for me, he only wants Nobs'" (149)
The files primarily consist of somewhat abbreviated letters from Kennington, who spent time at a number of different locations including Devonport (Plymouth) and RAF Wittering near Peterborough; some correspondence about and from sitters and their families, and other enquiries from the public.
Kennington was, on occasion, critical of the activities of the Ministry and the WAAC. He commented on the National Gallery exhibition in July 1940: "a comparative success i.e. Ravilious, McGrath and one or two others will leave an interesting record but otherwise a show by children for children. I anticipate in 1 or 2 years time these artists and their little pretty pretties will be forgotten"
Kennington always sought further publicity for his pictures which he felt were under-exposed. , and this is a constant theme through the correspondence. Dickey regularly supported proposals for Kennington's work to be used for example in publications or posters, but with little success. The file includes several presscuttings of letters praising his work and urging wider use of the images.
Kennington reported that he had tried to resign in July 1941 but had been persuaded to stay on, not least by talk of a book of reproductions of his pictures. There is also some mention of Kennington's brother's scheme to publish a book of his pictures, with an introduction by J B Priestley, for private circulation at the Frigidaire factory (see GP/46/49 and /57).
The file includes some of the postcards of Kennington's work which were produced for the MoI (qv)