War Art with Eddie Redmayne, a compelling film in which the Oscar-winning actor shines a powerful light into the abyss of warfare where war artists have left a unique legacy, will be screened at the Drill Hall in Chepstow tomorrow (Thursday, October 10) at 7.30pm in the lead up to Remembrance Day.
As an actor Redmayne’s preparation for his role in the dramatisation of the Great War novel Birdsong might have been qualification enough, but he also read art history at Cambridge, so he brings to the role of presenter some deep and perceptive insights.
Says Redmayne: “You try and imagine what it was like to be living like that, to be on the ground. But with that period, I have always found it impossible – not photography, nor accounts could really ever capture that horror. But for me it was the art and all sides of that art, people trying to depict the undepictable that perhaps came closest.”
The First World War had more serving artists than any other war in history. Redmayne explores the iconic canvasses of the Great War – Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer, John Singer Sargent and Henry Tonks, as well as the modernists C.R.W. Nevinson and David Bomberg.
He goes behind the scenes to see war art hidden away from public view – some censored, some never seen on film before.
The star also explores how artists’’ inventiveness played a part in battle, with the innovative dazzle camouflage for shipping to confuse German submarines – and there are images of young women from the Royal Academy Schools, preparing the designs which were then applied in the wartime shipyards , which included Chepstow.
Redmayne meets historians and soldiers and travels to battlefield locations as well as visiting artists’ studios to meet contemporary war artists to see how this art form is as vital now as it ever was.
War Art with Eddie Redmayne is being screened in association with the exhibition at Chepstow Museum, Discovering Hidden Herstories, the Red Cross nurses who worked at Gwy House Hospital Chepstow in World War I.
It is the first of a number of events that MonLife Heritage Museums will be staging this year and next.
Tickets £10 are available online at www.drillhallchepstow.co.uk or at the door on the night from 6.45pm