Ex-services Association Calls For PoW Art To Be Saved For The Nation

By David Prudames | 01 March 2002
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Left: Punishment, Jack Chalker

A senior representative of the Far-Eastern Prisoner of War Association of London has called for a collection of drawings and paintings by a former Japanese PoW to be kept together and in this country.

The collection of over 100 paintings and drawings by Jack Chalker depict the suffering of his fellow prisoners and will be sold by Bonhams auctioneers next month where they are expected to raise over £80,000.

Celia Pease, editor of the Far-Eastern PoW Association of London newsletter said: "Personally, I regret seeing the collection go up for sale because it would be split up. It should be kept together as a whole collection."

Right: Two working men, Kanyu River Camp, Jack Chalker

Mr Chalker, 83, was a wartime student at the Royal College of Art in London when he was sent to reinforce the Singapore garrison. Taken prisoner in 1942 alongside 137,000 others, he was sent to work on the notorious Burma railway, later called the railway of death.

Suffering from dysentery and dengue fever, Mr Chalker spent two and a half years in a hospital camp where he documented the experiences of his comrades. As well as studies of medical equipment and tropical ulcers his work depicts prisoners punished and struck down by disease.

Greg Segal from the Department for Culture Media and Sport said: "I can't say at this stage, it's a bit early to discuss an export ban." He added: "Assuming they were bought for export, they could be brought for review," confirming that if the collection met with the department's criteria, steps would be taken towards placing an export ban on it.

A spokesperson from the Imperial War Museum said there was no intention of purchasing the collection for its archive.

Commenting that Jack Chalker had every right to sell, Mrs Pease said of the collection: "It is part of our heritage, it is shame to split it up."

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