Friday, April 25, 2014

Art Friday: War

Australian war artist Ivor Hele

Art Friday: War

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

British war artist - Christopher Nevinson
Many brave men and women have ptured war through art (and photography) - they were the official war artists. They risked their lives and many died doing their job. Each nation enlisted artists to go to the front line and capture the daily events on the canvas or via photography. Countries such as Australia, the USA and UK still send war artists into battle.  Our Australia artists have gone to many wars, including those most recent in Iraq and Afghanistan and those in East Timor, Vietnam, Korea and the two World Wars. However, these days we rely more on the photo-journalist than a painter to record the horrors of war.

Today's Art Friday is to remember those brave war artists that went to war doing a job they love - art.

One Australian war artist - Alan Moore, was sent to Bergen-Belsen in 1945 to paint what he saw. He started sketching the moment he arrived at the camp - to witness a scene almost impossible to comprehend. He understood that his role was to document and interpret what he was saw as a record to future generations. His paintings hang in the Australian War Memorial. 

Wounded by Paul Nash
In World War I somewhere between 9 to over 15 million people died but that was nothing compared to World War II where it is estimated that between 50-80 million people died and of these somewhere around 38-55 million were civilians.

There are no winners in war.

War is about killing and maiming. 

It should never be romanticised. 

War brings only sadness and tragedy.

Lets not glorify war, there is nothing beautiful about it at all - but quietly remember all those families that have been shattered as a result of war and all those mothers and fathers who waited and waited to hear news. Too many tears have been shed because of war. 

"La Mitrailleuse", 1915 by Christopher Nevinson
painting by Stanley Llewelyn Wood, 1916
There are many faces of war, not only the horrors of the battle fields, but the men and women who worked to save lives such as the Red Cross nurses or the ambulance drivers or the many millions of women who worked in the factories making the ammunition. Each one played a vital role in the machinery of war. 

The patience of a red cross nurse by Gabriel Emile Nicolet (World War 1)
painting by Dame Laura Knight (WW2)
Land girls at work by Evelyn Dunbar - employed by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record the contribution of women during the Second World War. 
Doris Zinkeisen, "On the Ward", painted when she was a war artist during WW2
Ruby Loftus at her lathe in the Royal Ordnance Factory in South Wales,
painting by Dame Laura Knight (WW2)

Not only were artists busy at the front, they were the force behind the propaganda posters and there are many of these including this lovely about knowledge and public libraries!

Perhaps it was black and white photos and film footage from the front that really brought home the devastation and human cost of war. However it wasn't until Vietnam did we start to see war in colour and for the first we saw the red blood that had been hidden in the black and white imagines. 

WW1 photography

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

John McCrae

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia - the 25th of April - The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 (99 years ago), meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. Australian lost 8,141 deaths men and over 60,000 were injured. It is a day to remember the soldiers who died in past and present wars. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Facebook page

To all my blogging friends,

I thought it would be fun to start a Facebook page.

Who knows why we do things like this . . .  but its a friendly way to reach out to others and share the joy.

Below is my new Facebook address and I do hope you join. It will be much less formal than the blog and I do hope a place for feminine conversation (and of course joy in the everyday) and a place to enjoy a nice cup of tea. Beware, I am likely to include recipes, books I am reading, articles I have found interesting, artwork that I love, my cats, domestic activities, quotes, birthdays and anything else that takes my fancy!!  

PS lets see how big we can make this community by the weekend!!

PS Still trying to figure out how to place a 'Facebook" button on my blog - help welcome :)


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our outward appearance

I was reading a sermon by Spurgeon in regards to a piece I am writing on good works and came across something interesting. This sermon was delivered on Sunday morning, 16th March 1856, a time when we imagine ladies being well-dressed, respectable, modest, especially when attending church. However Spurgeon departed from his sermon on good works to remind those in the congregation, men and women alike, to consider what they wore and how they presented themselves as Christians in this world:

. . . . I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. . . . We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word.

If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, ye may dress yourselves up till ye shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the word will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

There is nothing new under the sun. Paul was witnessing the same problem and saw the need to preach about the importances of dress to his female congregation, to wear modest attire, focus less on outward appearance - the gold and glitter and all things costly, and focus more about godly behaviour through good works. Spurgeon, 157 years ago was still preaching the same message and if any church was game enough today, they too, would preach the importances of modesty, (with less time focused clothing and accessories ) and more focus godly pursues.

I wonder if the ladies in the congregation back in 1856 sat up and listened or went home and grumbled to their husbands and did nothing. I imagine the latter.


Monday, April 21, 2014


She had grown up in the same orphanage where she was stilling living, looking after its children in the same way older women had once looked after her. It was miles and miles from the nearest market or town. She slept on the floor in a tiny room with four other women. She had lost a leg to a landmine. But she could still ride her bike in the stifling humidity to wherever she wanted to go, looking gorgeous and hardly breaking a sweat at the same time.

She loved her home. She loved her friends and the fact she lived and worked with so many children. She loved the moment -- despite its fragility and the fact further conflict in the region at the time seemed imminent. She told me she was happy. (Source: Women's agenda)

What makes women happy — well, that depends very much on who you ask. 
  • Some women are not happy unless they have an exciting job outside the home running about closing deals and living the high life. 
  • Some women are very happy with remaining in the home and would never dream of any other career.
  • Some women are only happy if surrounded by “things” that are purchased with money. 
  • Some women are very happy to be surrounded by family and procession don't matter.

For me, happiness can be found with a comfy chair (slightly worn), cup of tea and a good book. Well, a few others things as well, such as my family and cats!

The Bible does not promise us happiness. Instead we are reminded many time to be joyful which is quite different to being happy.  However, joyfulness will bring about the feeling of happiness as we do work for the Lord. To be joyful is to be glad - to be glad when faced with life's many trials, be glad when not feeling well, be glad at all times of the day or night.  Gladness and joy can be found even at the saddest of moments.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trails 
(James 1:2)

Whilst happiness can be fleeting, our joy comes from the Lord, doing His work and is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, which is why it is an everlasting source of joy.  

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)

Joy has nothing to do with the number of new shoes you own.  You may get happiness from your collection, however, as soon as they get old and have lost their gloss, your happiness will have gone and to gain more happiness you will need to buy more. Joy is not fleeting like happiness. We won't find joy in a shop, look for joy in the Word of God and with joy will come contentment and happiness in knowing the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.  (Psalms 37:4)


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Finding joy in the everyday 2#


A morning walk in Autumn

Reading in the sunshine

Home-cooked meal

Kale and feta parcels based on spinach and thyme pastries from River Cottage

Where have you found joy this week?


Friday, April 18, 2014

Art Friday: Work

The village tailor by Albert Anker (1894)
Art Friday: Work

When we climb into our car,  walk around our homes,  prepare the evening meal, visit the doctor when we are sick, do we ever think of all the people that make things happen.  The farmers, the scientists, the construction workers, the manufacturers, the people who work in retail and in offices, the road builders, the doctors and even the lady at my local library. They all contribute to make the world turn round and without them we would all be in a pickle.

A coal miner by Norman Rockwell
We have an army of workers who get up every day and go to work to provide everything we need. Without them, the economies of the world would collapse and you or I would not be able to buy the milk we need, the meat we have for dinner, the books we read, the medicines that keep us alive or even the shoes on our feet.

Today I would like to remember the workers. Most don't go to work because they love their job or to go on a grand holiday (just think of the man who collects your garbage) - they go to earn a wage to support their families.

But think of those in the 19th century where coming home wasn't always guaranteed as mortality rates were very high in some occupations such as mining.

Factory workers (Switch Works), 1945
Teachers - painting by Haddon Sundblom

For those women who didn't marry in the 19th century, teaching (or being a governess) was considered to be a very suitable and ladylike occupation. 
Miners (Homeward) by Frank C Kirk (1930s)

Between 1850 and 1914, over 90,000 men and boys died in the United Kingdom from mining accidents. Many more were injured. This was one of the most dangerous occupations (and still is in many countries ) and without these men, the Industrial Revolution wouldn't have happened. At that time, 1 in every 10 men worked in the mines in the UK.  Sadly two miners died this week in Australian mines, it is still a dangerous occupation. 
Farming (Gathering potatoes) by George Clausen (1887)

Farming is hard work and for many centuries the lack of technology as we know today made it back breaking and very tough. Many women worked the land along side their husbands - especially at harvest time. 
Construction workers (Skyscraper) by Owen Smith
Fisherman - Jose Mongrell Torrent
The postman
Woman ironing by Edgar Degas

Most women from the lower classes in 19th century Britain either worked as domestic servants or in the factories. They worked, not by choice but in order to help support their families. It was hard labour and involved very long hours.  Some servants worked from 5am to 10pm at night. 

By 1870 (in the US), almost a million women were employed in domestic serve. 
Window washer by Norman Lerner (1950s)
The Optician by Paul Albert Guillaume
Mending the nets by Winslow Homer (1881)
Sometime life became even tougher when workers were laid off or went on strike to fight for better conditions. We can thank many of these men for the conditions we have today because they were willing to stand up and say no.  It often cost them their homes and everything dear. 

On Strike by Hubert von Herkomer
No work in the Victoria era =  no money which resulted in no homes for many families.  Life wasn't pretty as the following two paintings illustrate. Tragically many ended up in the Workhouses and many never left - a living hell.  We can thank the changes to the welfare system in Britain that led to the current system we have today. At least if one looses their job today they have some assistances to lean on - however many do still loose their homes as they can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. 
Out in the Cold by Leon Bazile Perrault
Homeless by Thomas Kenningston
High mortality rates among workers during the Industrial Revolution, especially those men and women working in factories where employers had never heard of the concept of work health and safety left many children orphaned.  Whilst many paintings portray the Victoria Era is beautiful and delicate, for many it was nothing like that. 

Orphans by Thomas Kenningston (1885)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elizabeth Prentiss: If only I could follow her example

Elizabeth Prentiss (1818 - 1878) was a frail woman who suffered intensely from chronic insomnia all her life. Few knew this. Despite her misery and suffering, the world saw a radiant face. She was described as a bright-eyed woman with a keen sense of humour. 

One of the darkest days of her life was on January 16, 1852 when her son Eddy died. The five-year-old had broken into a rash and fever. Elizabeth did the little that the doctors could suggest in an attempt to save his life. After Eddy died she recognized that going to Jesus was a great blessing for him, however much pain it cost her; and she wrote lines in which she urged him, "O, hasten hence! to His [Christ's] embraces, hasten!"*

We all could learn a thing or two from ladies such as Elizabeth Prentiss. A woman rarely free of pain and suffering, almost an invalid, could still put on a cheerful smile and radiant face. No matter what is thrown your way or what the Lord asks you to do - whether that be a SAHM or a woman who goes off to work, put on that radiant face and march onwards. Don't let others pull you down or find fault in what you have been asked to do - do all things for the glory of God, with joy etched into your face. 

Its one of those valuable lessons we need to teach our sons and daughters. They don't know what their future situation might be, but whatever God asks them to do, do it with a joyful heart. I don't think my aunt expected to remain a spinster all her life, regardless, she always had a smile on her face, so willing to help others and she lived life to its fullest and served God until the end of her days. 

Isn't it strange, but it is often the most able-bodied, the healthiest that grumble the most about the lack of energy, lack of time and the need for a sit down. However the most frail among us tend to have the most life, the most desire to be joyful. Perhaps knowing that one doesn't live forever pushes them on to make the most of every day, whilst the rest of us, a little more sure of our situation, more complacent, tend to take it all from granted. 

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever. 
Psalm 107:1

* Source:

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