Kennington: Colours and Line

Eric Henri Kennington. Lives of the Great War, Imperial War Museum image.

Eric Henri Kennington.
Lives of the First World War, Imperial War Museum

Ever More Connected

Artist Eric Henri Kennington was a war artist and sculptor– creating well known works of both the Great War (The First World War) and the Second World War. Kennington’s work is housed in several public collections including the National Portrait Gallery (London), the Tate Gallery (London), the National Galleries of Scotland, and the Imperial War Museum. One Kennington sculpted memorial, The 24th East Surrey Division War Memorial, stands in Battersea Park, London.

Auda Abu Tayi Kennington portrait. Seven Pillars of Wisdom)

Auda Abu Tayi
Kennington portrait.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom

However, of particular interest this day is Kennington’s work associated with T.E. Lawrence C.B., D.S.O. “Lawrence of Arabia” having provided several portraits for Lawrence’s book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom completed in 1922 and first published in 1926. Kennington also produced a bust of Lawrence placed in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral (1936) and a recumbent effigy of Lawrence at St. Martin’s Church, Wareham, Dorset (1939). The story of Lawrence is well known and popular having achieved considerable modern standing with the release of David Lean’s 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia.

Kennington plaster bust of T.E. Lawrence. (Seven Pillars of Wisdom image)

Kennington plaster bust of T.E. Lawrence.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Popular with film makers the Lean film has repeatedly provided considerable guidance to the craft for directors Steven Speilberg and Martin Scorsese. One cannot help but become engrossed in the creation of this work by David Lean and the insights provided by these accomplished directors. So too this humble writer, who has oft mentioned his own interest in the film. The Lawrence film is also of great interest to Paradigm’s (Motion Picture Company), President and Director Casey Williams. Having chatted with Casey about the Lawrence film I know how much respect Casey holds for the accomplishments of David Lean and this film. Having often discussed the creation of story and connection with Casey it is considerable fun now to bring connection to two of Casey’s favorite subjects…Lawrence (and David Lean)…and the 16th Battalion, C.E.F. (The Canadian Scottish).

Lawrence of Arabia theatre poster for David Lean's 1962 film. (Wiki image)

Lawrence of Arabia theatre poster for David Lean’s 1962 film.
(Wiki image)

I reintroduce now Eric Henri Kennington an accomplished Royal Academy artist, a specialist in the depiction of hardship faced by sailors, soldiers and airmen. Not only did Kennington have a close association to Lawrence but in 1920 he completed The Conquerors a painting depicting the 16th Battalion CEF (The Canadian Scottish) and housed in the collection of the Canadian War Museum. Previously entitled The Victims, Kennington renamed the painting following objections to the title by Canadian Scottish Lieutenant Colonel Cy Peck V.C., D.S.O. and Bar, who was instrumental in the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to Piper James Cleland Richardson. The Conquerors depicts the 16th as a diverse group of soldiers – somewhat ghostly and representing a diverse gathering of recruits. The colours and lines in The Conquerors make me wish that the illustrations from the Seven Pillars of Wisdom could appear here in colour.

The Conquerors. Eric Henri Kennington artist, 1920. (Marching to Armageddon)

The Conquerors
Eric Henri Kennington artist, 1920.
Marching to Armageddon

So too I wonder of the artist Kennington, the soldier Lawrence, the Canadian Scottish…drawn together by the hands of one artist…one wonders what experience was shared in the preparation of the Seven Pillars illustrations. Did Kennington speak of his experience to Lawrence…did Lawrence know the Canadian Scottish? The colours and lines grow ever more connected (even if only hopeful), brought here this day…connection.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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