03 December 2020 - 30 April 2021
Churchill War Rooms
Free event with general admission
Explore the Second World War’s impact on London life with a unique art exhibition housed in the secret command centre where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Allied effort.
This carefully curated selection of artworks, on display for a limited time only, shines a new light on the experiences of ordinary people forced into new patterns of living by Nazi air raids.
At the heart of the exhibition are newly acquired drawings from one of the most significant British artists of the twentieth century, Henry Moore, as well as works from other British artists from IWM’s world-renowned collection: William Matvyn Wright; Eric Ravilious; Ernest Boye Uden; Mabel Hutchinson; Evelyn Gibbs; Evelyn Dunbar; and Leila Faithfull.
Through works inspired by the extraordinary measures Londoners took to continue their lives amidst wartime hardship and mortal danger, see their experience of war as artists captured it.
By 1941, Eric Ravilious was already a widely travelled war artist. He was temporarily released from this work to return to London to draw the new control centre of the Ministry of Home Security. His series of watercolours show clear parallels with the look and feel of the Cabinet War Rooms.
Moore frequently visited London Underground stations during the Second World War, observing people sheltering from the heavy bombardment above ground. The pieces selected from his ‘Shelter’ series for this display are some of the most moving and enduring depictions of life during the Blitz. The drawings were his own personal response to the scenes he witnessed.
Dunbar produced some 40 paintings for the WAAC. Several show the Women’s Land Army – a task which she approached with some fortitude: I always cycle when I can,’ she wrote to Dickey, ‘but find a big drawing board et ectera difficult on a ten mile ride.’ A chance discovery of a cache of her paintings resulted in an exhibition in 2015 at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester of her lost works.