and Canada
in the
Second World War
| Acronyms & abbreviations | About Art and War |

Historical Essays

Australia's Second World War art
The Australian Second World War collection has arisen from many sources. Apart from the Memorial's officially appointed and administered artists, the Military History Section (MHS) seconded artists already enlisted in the army, navy or air force. Works also came into the Memorial's collection through independent schemes initiated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) War History Section, Royal Australian Navy Historical Records Section, and the Allied Works Council. O ver the years the collection has been augmented by the acquisition of works by non-commissioned artists. Taken together, it offers a diverse interpretation of Australia's involvement in war and its impact on society.

Britain's War Artists Scheme
The Imperial War Museum's collection of Second World War paintings, acquired through the British government's War Artists Scheme (WAS), and subsequently augmented by judicious collecting, surveys the breadth of experience of civilian and military life, capturing the national mood and responses to the war, as well as shaping our memory of it. It shows the reality of modern war, the displays of force, but also the fear and the tedium, and how the familiar could be juxtaposed with the utterly strange and new.

Canada's Second World War official art program
The Canadian War Records (CWR), Canada's Second World War art program, produced two kinds of art: field sketches and finished paintings. The instructions charged the artists with portraying "significant events, scenes, phases and episodes in the experience of the Canadian Armed Forces," and required each of the 32 artists hired to produce a certain number of paintings. The instructions make it clear that the War Artists' Committee highly valued these finished paintings. "Cartoons and sketches" were useful only, the instructions note, "for the re-creation of atmosphere, topography, and details of arms, vehicles, equipment, clothing, participants and terrain, of aircraft and ships."

The British Commonwealth at War
Britain and the dominion nations were the only powers that fought in the war from its beginning in September 1939 to its end in August 1945. Their forces served in all theatres of war, from the gale-swept wastes of the Atlantic, to the skies over Europe, the forests and fields of Europe, the deserts of North Africa and the jungles and seas of southeast Asia. Each nation was wholly committed to the war effort, and some (notably Britain but also Australia) suffered direct attack. On the anniversary of final victory, what was widely regarded as the Commonwealth's finest achievement, it is fitting to recall the joint exertions and successes of the Commonwealth at war.

Australian War Memorial Canadian War Museum Imperial War Museum