St. Barbe Museum Hosts The Women's Land Army - A Portrait

By Tara Booth | 06 November 2008
A poster of a woman with the title 'for a healthy, happy job, join the Women's Land Army' written on it.

Recruiting Poster (World War II), by Clive Uptton. Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum

In the same year 30,000 Land Girls received their badges of honour in recognition for their efforts, it seems timely to have an exhibition dedicated to the story of these women and the work they achieved.

The Women’s Land Army, often labelled as the ‘Forgotten Army’ made a pioneering contribution during the First and Second World Wars; they worked in difficult conditions and sometimes in virtual isolation, ensuring food productivity was maintained and maximised after the drain of rural workers into the army.

An image of two women and one man working in a field.

The Women’s Land Army with German Prisoners, 1918, by Randolph Schwabe. Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum

At its peak in 1943 there were 80,000 Land Girls working on the land from dawn till dusk to provide food for the nation during the war.

The nationally significant exhibition at St Barbe Art Gallery in Lymington provides an insightful look into the work of the Land Girls and celebrates that of the artists who portrayed them.

Original paintings and drawings created for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee explains how much about Land Girls were perceived, and how they became an iconic image symbolising Britain’s success in winning the domestic battle to raise food production.

An image of a tractor with sstraw being lifted onto the back.

Land Girls carting oats at Southminster, Essex, 1941, by Mona Moore. Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum

These iconic works will be displayed among posters, prints and other paintings by the likes of James Bateman, Norma Bull, Mona Moore and Walter West, loaned from galleries across the UK including the Imperial War Museum. Many of which haven’t been exhibited since the war years.

Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mrs Mary Fagan JP and Mayor of Lymington and Pennington, Martina Humber, paid tribute to Land Girls living in and around Hampshire during a visit to the art gallery this month.

And each ex-Land Girl arrived wearing the badge of honour, which was presented to them earlier this year by Defra in recognition of their important role during both World Wars.

An image of elderly women and one man standing in a gallery in front of a painting.

Image courtesy of St. Barbe Museum & Art Gallery.

(Above) Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mrs Mary Fagan JP and Mayor of Lymington and Pennington, Martina Humber with the Land Girls in the gallery.

There will also be a Land Girl’s afternoon on November 20 2008, to coincide with the exhibition, giving people a chance to see the exhibition and meet ex-Land Girls.

Admission is free for Land Girls and carers but places are limited so booking is essential. For further information and to book a place, contact the museum on 01590 676969.

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