Captive Artists: the unseen artwork of British Far East prisoners of war

News article 6 Dec 2019
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The book ‘Captive Artists: the unseen artwork of British Far East prisoners of war’ was published earlier this week

The book features the artwork of 69 previously unrecognised British military artists held in Far East captivity during the Second World War.

Captive Artists is linked to a unique exhibition – “Secret Art of Survival: creativity and ingenuity of British Far East prisoners of war, 1942-1945” currently running at Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery & Museum.

The art historian Philip Mould, international art dealer and who opened the exhibition, said of the book: “The art that these men generated reveals untold historical truths in ways that words alone  could never impart… this wonderfully produced book expresses how unbreakable the human spirit can be in circumstances of unthinkable adversity.”

LSTM’s Honorary Research Fellow Meg Parkes, lead author of Captive Artists, said: Captive Artists charts the seven year search to locate previously unrecognised British military war artists. For the first time it brings together artwork created during captivity by 69 Far East prisoners of war (FEPOW) artists, some trained but most keen amateurs. I hope that both the book and the accompanying exhibition act as a catalyst for yet more artwork to emerge and be recognised as documentary war art.

Both the book and the exhibition mark the upcoming 75th anniversary year of the ending of WWII and the release of tens of thousands of British Far East captives. Several thousand of these men were treated during the post-war decades in Liverpool, by staff at LSTM resulting in LSTM longest running project.

The title is the third in a series, following the earlier publications of Captive Memories and Burma Railway Medicine.

Captive Artists is published by Palatine Books, 416 pages, soft back, full colour throughout and has a cost price of £20

It is available at the Victoria Gallery & Museum bookshop, LSTM’s library and can be ordered directly by contacting fepow.project@lstmed.ac.uk