Before & After: Erin Perry’s “The Pity of War”


In the hours and hours of research I’ve done for the pieces I’m creating for my upcoming show “The Pity of War”, one of the most poignant photographs I’ve come across is the centerpiece of this artwork. Three siblings huddled together, with their evacuation tags around their necks, wait at King’s Cross for a train that will take them from London to Northampton, far from their Mum and Dad and the only home they’ve ever known.

Barbara (8), John (7) and Rosemary Dawson (6) didn’t even know their picture had been taken until a few years ago when the British Postal System released a set of stamps honoring “Heroes at Home” of WWII, of Land Girls, the Home Guard and others, including evacuees.

When I found the old photo, I knew I would have to feature it in a collage. Those young faces – Barbara holding onto her sibs, being the brave big sister, John looking slightly bemused, and Rosemary studying her tag – brought tears to my eyes and spoke to my heart.

I painted the canvas a toffee brown and then sponged and spattered leaf green and ivory acrylics. The xerox copy of the siblings was lightly coloured with water soluble oil pastels and adhered with matte medium as were the two period posters. The tags were tea stained and then stamped with numbers and collaged with the “London County Council”  3 were affixed to the canvas, one around Barbara’s neck and the others attached with upholstery tacks to the edges. The final touch, vintage wooden number blocks under each child.

As a mother I cannot imagine having to send my children away. As a mother I cannot imagine keeping them home, in a war torn city under nightly threat of bombing. Indeed, What Price Safety, What Price Love?


Some of Erin's supplies for this piece

View more of Erin’s work on her website.


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