Resilience: The Battlefield Art of 1919–1922

Ottawa, Ontario, September 20, 2018 — The end of a war is never the end of the story, but the start of a new chapter in which societies and lives are rebuilt. That is the message of Resilience – The Battlefield Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, 1919–1922, a new exhibition developed by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with The War Amps. Featuring works of art from the collection of Library and Archives Canada, Resilience contemplates the aftermath of the First World War via the work of a Canadian woman artist and the war amputees’ organization that sent her to Europe to record the devastation.

“Resilience highlights not only Europe’s reconstruction in the wake of the conflict, but also the remarkable success of The War Amps in rebuilding bodies and lives,” said James Whitham, Acting Director General of the Canadian War Museum.

In 1919, the newly established Amputation Club of British Columbia — a precursor to The War Amps — hired Hamilton to travel to Europe to paint the post-war period for the club’s magazine. She produced more than 300 impressionistic paintings of scenes in southwestern Belgium and northeastern France: battle-scarred landscapes, commemorations of the lost, and activities signalling a return to normal life. Hamilton considered her battlefield art a labour of love, and in 1926 donated most of the works to the Public Archives of Canada — now Library and Archives Canada — as a gift to the country. Resilience features 15 of Hamilton’s most moving works from the Library and Archives collection, along with images and Museum artifacts exploring the history of The War Amps.

According to Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “It was Mrs. Riter Hamilton’s desire when she donated her canvasses to the National Archives that these remain in the hands of all Canadians. With this exhibition we are happy to grant her wish.”

“It is a privilege to collaborate with the Canadian War Museum and Library and Archives Canada in bringing Mary Riter Hamilton’s paintings and story to this exhibition,” said Brian Forbes, Chairman of The War Amps Executive Committee. “As The War Amps marks its 100th anniversary this year, it is especially meaningful for us to be involved. It gives us an opportunity to show the public our passion for supporting and restoring the lives of Canadian amputees since our story began, at the end of the First World War in 1918.”

Content courtesy of the Canadian War Museum, www.warmuseum.ca