Rye displays the art of war

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Detail from one of the paintings

An art exhibition with a difference which will be of great interest to many, and indeed to anyone in awe of and horrified by acts of war but who would also like to honour the memory of the fallen, will be at the Rye Scout Centre, The Grove, Rye, from 11am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday November 10 and 11.

The artist, the late Philip W G Walker of The Walker Cafe, Camber, had a most eventful and horrific time in the Royal Navy and his family have put the exhibition together.

He joined up when only 15 years 3 months and 12 days old. That was in June 1913.

Following his first posting – to the training ship, HMS Ganges – as a boy sailor, Philip’s naval history as boy involved many ships and different places during the war which were a journey in themselves, covering The Falklands, Gibraltar , Gallipoli, Malta and the Battle of Jutland. Philip became an able seaman on the November 10, 1916. He was then later honourably discharged ‘invalided’ on April 9, 1919.

Memories that must have been the stuff of nightmares

This may sound like a really exciting ‘Boys Own adventure’ but with the adrenaline came the witnessing of horrors.

The exhibition is of the art work that Philip made on his return to Camber after the war to restart his life in the Walker Cafe.

Entrance to the exhibition is by donation , This will be for the ‘Combat Stress’ charity who will be in attendance.

Shell shock, as it was known in the First World War, is caused by a severely distressing situation and/or event. These days it is called PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and still happens today as a result of exposure to war and other traumatic situations.

Philip, in so far as is known, had no training as an artist, but he perhaps intuitively felt the need to paint these horrors on canvas and also, as some readers may remember, on the walls and ceilings of The Walker Cafe, Old Lydd Road, Camber.

Ivor Walker, son of Philip Walker, and his daughter Debbie Perfitt

The paintings are in oil on canvas and depict in an almost contemporary way, views that the artist had experienced. The strokes of the brush are always forceful and positive with no hesitation. The colours are in the main the colours of anger with aggression; blue to green and then of course red and orange to clash and provoke fury and show confrontation.

Other artists include Peter Howson, who suffered greatly after covering the Bosnian civil war and Mark Nevil who was in Afghanistan for only three months but his story is heartbreaking.

I applaud the Walker family for putting this exhibition together to honour a very brave boy and man and to assist a worthwhile cause.

Image Credits: The Walker family .

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