Glasgow & West Scotland

Heroism at home and fighting at the front

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Media captionFarrell's pictures show women working alongside men

A new exhibition captures the heroism of the home front in Glasgow during World War One, as well as the fighting of Scots soldiers at the Western Front.

The images, by Uddingston-born Fred Farrell, show women working alongside men in the city's heavy engineering works and the shipyards of Clydeside, forging the guns and shells and making the tanks that were to be so important.

His work as a war artist is unique, in that he was commissioned by the Corporation of Glasgow, rather than by the units he was embedded with or the government.

Image copyright Glasgow City Council

Images recorded in the west of Scotland show big guns being forged at the Beardmore factory in Parkhead, armaments being made at the National Projectile Factory which was in Cardonald, and submarines being built at Clydebank.

Dr Joanna Meacock, curator of British art at Glasgow museums said: "(Farrell) is at his most dynamic in his drawings of the munitions factories, which are full of noise, light and movement.

"There is a sense of joy and energy in industry and machinery, in patterning and design."

Contemporaries also appreciated those pictures, The Herald newspaper commenting in 1920 that his drawings "suggest the poetry that lurks in the noisy environments of shipyard and factory."

Farrell, who was invalided home from service with the Royal Engineers, went back to Flanders in northern Belgium in 1917 and to France in 1918 to sketch and paint pictures of the Highland Light Infantry and the 51st Highland Division.

During those visits he went to the scenes of some of the most famous, and bloody, fighting in the war, including Ypres and Passchendale Ridge.

Dr Meacock added: "Farrell's sketches and watercolours powerfully offer a landscape filtered through personal experience and emotion.

"Battle scenes and strategic deliberations are reconstructed, informed by first-hand accounts.

"There are poignant images of graves, devastated landscapes and destroyed churches."

Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image copyright Glasgow City Council

Fred Farrell came from a distinguished Glasgow family. His father was the curator of the Trades House on Glassford Street in the city. He initially studied civil engineering, and was self-taught as an artist.

It is thought he made around a hundred images during his term as a war artist.

Some were featured in a book written by the author and journalist Neil Munro, now best known for his "Vital Spark" Clyde puffer stories.

Glasgow Museums hold about 50 drawings and watercolours in their collections, and a number are on display at the People's Palace, on Glasgow Green, until the end of November 2014.

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