Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum

Celebrating our community collaboration, Journeys with “The Waste Land” and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum would like to thank Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum for the loan of two wonderful paintings for the exhibition.  Installation shots above of:

Terry Atkinson (British, born 1939) History Snap I, 1984 Pastel on paper 

(centre left) and

Colin Moss (British, 1914-2005) Morning after the Blitz, 1940 Pencil and watercolour on paper 

(small centre right)

Both works discovered and suggested by Eve Fleming and Jayne Stanley, members of the Coventry Research Group, as illustrating themes and imagery conjured by the T.S. Eliot poem “The Waste Land”.  As an exercise in involving local people and institutions the images fulfilled many criteria, from our aims and objectives for the project, through to our exhibition themes of Journeys and Fragmentation.  Terry Atkinson, who taught at Coventry School of Art 1967-73, depicts a wasteland with a lone figure and Colin Moss, who was camouflage officer at Royal Leamington Spa Camouflage Directorate during WWII, portrays the everyday effects of war on a community.

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Detail Terry Atkinson (British, born 1939) History Snap I, 1984 Pastel on paper

Terry Atkinson (British, born 1939) History Snap I, 1984 Pastel on paper

Who are those hooded hordes swarming

Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth

Ringed by the flat horizon only…(lines 368-370)

This is an image of innocence faced with horror. The path to the future passes across a war torn scene. For Eliot, war had left a wasteland, a broken world which society would struggle to heal. The muted background colours of Atkinson’s work throw the highlighted child into focus.

Colin Moss (British, 1914-2005) Morning after the Blitz, 1940 Pencil and watercolour on paper

What shall we do tomorrow? What shall we ever do?  (lines 133-134)

Their world has fallen around them but people stand on the pavement talking as if they were discussing the weather.  Moss depicts ordinary people sharing in a moment in history in his atmospheric watercolour.  The harsh geometrics of the walls, ladder and fence are in contrast to the warm rounded bodies of the survivors.  In Eliot’s poem, ordinary people stand out among the images of fragmentation and chaos.  (Celia O’Donovan) Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum

The above text labels accompany the works currently at the Herbert Journeys with “The Waste Land” exhibition, which is coming to an end this Sunday 18th November, so visit soon.