Victoria Howarth
Monday 11 December 2017
  • Contemporary conflict
  • Age 11-14 (KS3)


Contemporary Conflict, Second World War, Art

Artwork and interviews from a selection of the artists’ who were featured in IWM North’s Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War exhibition.


Photo Op

kennardphillipps are Peter Kennard and Cat Picton-Phillipps who have worked together since 2002, initially to make art in response to the invasion of Iraq. Their work is shown in a range of contexts, on line, in galleries and on protest marches. They describe their work as an integral part of political activism, a direct means of communication: 'the visual arm of protest'. Photo Op, depicting Tony Blair taking a ‘selfie’ in front of a huge explosion, has become an iconic image. It was produced in response to the anger they felt at the Government’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, in the face of widespread public protest. They describe their need to create something that reflected and validated this public opposition, sentiments they felt were not reflected in the mainstream media at the time.

Collection IWM. © kennardphillipps


Camp Boundary

In 2002, IWM commissioned Paul Seawright to respond to the War in Afghanistan, which had started the previous October. He was interested in how an artist might engage with conflict in a way that was different to the dramatic spectacles of photojournalism. The resulting photographs of minefields show a seemingly empty landscape, which in reality is both lethal and inaccessible. He says that he had ‘always been fascinated by the invisible, the unseen, the subject matter that doesn't easily present itself to the camera’. Seawright’s work highlights the changing nature of contemporary warfare with its increasing emphasis on remote technology and hidden enemies.

Collection IWM. © Paul Seawright

Cyanotype [RAF Sock]

Annabel Dover explores the relationship between objects and memory and the social relationships that these objects represent. She highlights the power attributed to objects as markers of memory. These prints were produced from Second World War family keepsakes. The prints' distinctive colour comes from the method used in their production, in which an object is placed on treated paper and exposed to the sun, leaving a shadow. The items depicted belie the drama that they represent: the hat was worn by Dover’s grandmother when she received a telegram stating her husband was missing in action. The sock was worn by her stepfather when he was shot down and injured over Germany whilst serving with the RAF. His leg was amputated, but the nurses that cared for him washed and mended the sock. It became, for him, symbolic of their compassion.

Collection IWM.  © Annabel Dover


Adventures in History: Painting Life graphic
Painting Life
Join IWM experts Becky and Paris as they share real life stories of artists, and the invaluable role they played during the Second World War.  
'Over The Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 by John Nash
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 1656)
British Art of the First World War
Use these sources to discover more about art during the First World War. For ideas to help you use these sources, take a look at our Suggested Activities.


IWM London Exterior shot
IWM London
School visits to IWM London
Discover the stories of lives shaped by war and conflict from 1914 until the present day. Step into the iconic atrium, explore the brand new Second World War Galleries and experience our new learning facilities.
IWM North landscape view
IWM North
School visits to IWM North
Purpose-built to tell the powerful stories of over a century of war, IWM North makes full use of its extraordinary exhibition space to deliver an award-winning immersive experience.
IWM Duxford Showcase
IWM Duxford
School visits to IWM Duxford
Walk through the same hangars and buildings as those who served at RAF Duxford. See aircraft take to the skies from the airfield that Spitfires first flew. And get up close to over a century of aviation with hundreds of aircraft and objects on display.