For the Duration presents poignant images of conflict from the First and Second World Wars, many of which serve as timely reminders of humanitys ability to conjure resolve in the face of adversity. They also shine light upon the selfless deeds of so many in our not too distant past.
For the Duration includes work by a number of figures who were commissioned by the British official war artists scheme. Although this was initially set up for the purpose of propaganda (as evidenced by Sir Frank Brangwyns War Bonds lithograph), it soon evolved into a means of memorialising the conflict, and the images produced by artists such as Muirhead Bone, Evelyn Dunbar, and Barnett Freedman continue to shape our interpretation of these cataclysmic events.
Charles Cundalls Withdrawal from Dunkirk, 1940 ( Imperial War Museum), produced under the scheme, became a popular image of British endurance when exhibited at the National Gallery in August, 1940. Such spirit is also evoked in Cundalls The British Railways Carry On, which employs a similar scale to capture an air raid on home soil.
Some of the most moving images of war were painted by those that were too old for active service, or exempted for medical reasons. This can be seen in the work of Claude Barry and Frank Potter, who both utilise famous London landmarks in their dramatic, rousing compositions. Frank Potter volunteered as an auxiliary fireman during the war, and paints himself among the debris in his plastron-fronted tunic. Olive Mudie-Cooke also volunteered as an ambulance driver on the frontline for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry and Red Cross, and tragically took her own life a few years after the First World War.