Rozanne Hawksley: War and Memory at The Queen’s House
At The Queen’s House in Greenwich four rooms dedicated to the loss, trauma, mourning and memory of the First World War mark the centenary of the event. These rooms come together to form an exhibition that explores the legacy of the war through new and previous works by the renowned textile artist Rozanne Hawksley.
War and Memory confronts the romanticised notion of heroism and sacrifice that is typical to traditional memorialisation and commemoration. Hawksley’s work delves beneath the idolised surface to reveal the darker and often chaotic existence beneath. The exhibition includes potent symbols of remembrance, both personal and universal, such as ornate sweetheart pieces studded by spent bullets and memorial wreaths made of military garb reflecting the individual sacrifice and the great universal loss.
The realities of sacrifice and loss, not only of those who died in combat but of those who returned, are most poignantly represented in the room dedicated to trauma through a series of powerful and disturbing pencil drawings. These are contrasted against the bold paintings of Eric Kennington, an official war artist. In these pieces Hawksley emphasises not only the physical scars of war but also the mental, as she depicts her soldiers as fragile beings who are emaciated and not quite human, haunted by their experiences of conflict. While Kennington’s paintings are much more traditional and portray stoic figures who are calm and unaffected, the epitome of romanticised masculinity, Hawksley’s drawings stand defiantly beside them exposing the true scars beneath and highlighting the loss of self and the irrevocable effects of the war on those who experienced it.
This is an extremely moving and powerful exhibition confronting the sad and disturbing reality of war in a venue that could not be more suitable to it’s intention – The Queen’s House was once a charity caring for the orphaned children of naval men. War and Memory presents viewers with an important perspective on remembrance, representation and memory during this time of commemoration.
War and Memory is at The Queen’s House Greenwich until 16th November 2014, for further information visit here.