War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Notes from PhD land: Paddy Hartley

one of the perks of PhD land is the chance I have to hear great lectures from world class scholars and artists.

today, as part of a First World War Centenary project, a project funded by European Union, I had the chance to hear the artist Paddy Hartley present on his work Facade: Faces of Battle. Hartley, a visual/sculptural artist originally from Yorkshire, spent four years researching and working on the installation Faces of Battle which takes as its starting point, the badly disfigured faces of the Great War and the innovative plastic surgery of Sir Harold Gillies.

head wounds and facial injuries in the Great War were unprecedented in number and severity for several reasons. among these reasons was that the Great War was trench warfare, in which the soldier fought often, from the shoulders up. another reason was,\ the introduction of the metal helmet which splintered and sharded and sliced faces and heads mercilessly when hit by munitions. increased firepower was another cause of devastating facial injuries.

Gillies, and by extension, Hartley, are among the wizard surgeons and artists respectively, who deliver(ed) some redemption from the Great War’s suffering. to see Hartley, a young man’s compassion and respect for those who came before us so long ago, and who suffered so, was truly a privilege. the artist’s sense of ethics, and frankly, tenderness, with which he treats his subject matter-surely some of the most hideous of injuries from the Great War- is a lesson in humility for any of us who professes, even tangentially, to bear witness to war and those who endure it.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Notes from PhD land: Paddy Hartley. It was posted here on October 16, 2013.


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