A little book of wonders

Olivia Calman IWM London

Olivia has recently stopped volunteering with IWM London.

Before she left she wrote this post appealing for information on a personal project.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR produced all manner of art.

Trench art comes in several forms, magazines, carvings, shell cases and anything else you can imagine.

One form that is sometimes overlooked are notebooks. Each is a pocket art gallery, filled with life and colour that document a world known for mud and death. One such notebook sparked my curiosity.

But in order to find more I need help.

The notebook that started is all belonged to my great grandfather Gordon Calman.

It is full of paintings and sketches, phrases and signatures including Rudyard Kipling’s.

As you have seen in previous blogs Gordon fought in Europe during the First World War. Most of the art in this notebook dates from late 1917 – to early 1919, while Gordon was in France as a member of the New Zealand ‘Perriots’ concert party.

Gordon J Calman, 'Stars and Stars, 1919'. © Calman Family Collections, Wellington, New Zealand.

Gordon J Calman, ‘Stars and Stars, 1919’. © Calman Family Collections, Wellington, New Zealand.

Each picture in the notebook was penned by a different artist. Professionals and amateurs alike, who lived or travelled through the area. Below is an example.

E M Casey, 'Pilot Fish, France 1917', © Calman Family Collections, Wellington, New Zealand.

E M Casey, ‘Pilot Fish, France 1917’, © Calman Family Collections, Wellington, New Zealand.

This little book hints at a thriving artistic community amongst the mud, trenches and misery of this “the war to end all wars”.

I have seen reference to ‘Cal’ or ‘GJ Calman’ in another notebook, in an online forum, but so far have been unable to locate the physical notebook.

So here is my question. Have you seen any similar notebooks or diaries from the First World War?

Do you have one tucked away in a draw or cupboard or hiding in the attic?

I would love to hear from you as I continue to explore these hidden gems of the human spirit, hidden amongst the horror of war.

If you can help Olivia in her search please contact her through the comments section on this post.

Comments will be passed to her and she will reply directly to the email you give.

2 thoughts on “A little book of wonders

  1. Deborah C says:

    Hello Olivia, Try different search criteria on Lives of the First World War to search for communities or stories related to Art, Artists, Autograph, Scrapbook.

    For example there are 16 communities for Autograph – soldiers in rehabilitation hospitals would often draw in those kept by nurses.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s