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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Trench Art

Kate Wills

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My friend Kevin Varty has been collecting WW1 ephemera for some years, and presents an excellent talk on the subject. However, one question, whose answer has thus far proved elusive, is: when was the term 'Trench Art' first used? Kevin tells me that Dr Nicholas Saunders provides no clues in his recent book on the subject, and indeed seems to apply the name 'trench art' to anything connected to the Great War, such as souvenirs.

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I have sometimes used the site http:www.trenchart.org. I don't know if that would help. The author invites queries via her email address.


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Nick Saunders says in the introduction to his book that "Trench Art" is a misleading term, because it has come to encompass all sorts of items, just as Kate suggests.

He describes Trench Art as

"..... objects made by soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians from the waste of war and from a host of other materials. Trench art was made for a variety of practical reasons - for sale, barter and personal use - but could also possess deeper spiritual meanings associated with religious belief, grief and mourning, and relief or guilt at surviving war when others did not."

This definition, of course includes items made during or following earlier or later wars.

There are so many different definitions of what Trench Art is. It will be interesting to learn when the term was first used, but it will also be interesting to know what it was considered to mean when it was first used.

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