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First World War through the eyes of artists and soldiers

Tanks, trenches and gas attacks. Dead and wounded comrades. During the First World War, artists and soldiers discovered that art was an effective way to express to other Canadians the horror and heartache of what they witnessed.
A century later, these works are helping younger generations understand and appreciate Canada’s role and sacrifices.
From now until May 27, the University of Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery at The Military Museums is hosting Witness — Canadian Art of the First World War, a travelling exhibition developed by the Canadian War Museum.
“As Canada’s foremost museum of military history, we are uniquely positioned to tell the many stories of the First World War,” said Stephen Quick, director general of the Canadian War Museum. “This exhibition uses unforgettable artworks from the Canadian War Museum’s Beaverbrook Collection of War Art to illuminate the impact of the First World War on individuals and the country.”
The exhibition includes 53 works by some of Canada’s best-known artists including A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Henrietta Mabel May, Paul Nash, Dorothy Stevens and Frederick Varley.
Also featured is artwork by Canadian soldiers who served on the front lines.
“Most of the art by soldiers has never been seen before,” explained Lindsey Sharman, curator of the Founders’ Gallery. “These works add to the totality of the powerful war record that we present at the Founders’ Gallery.”
Witness is organized into four thematic sections: Canadians at War, Tools of War, Ruins of War and Landscapes of War.
A second exhibition in the gallery, in commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Moreuil Wood, is The Battle of Moreuil Wood: 100 Years of Heroism curated by the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Museum at The Military Museums.
On March 30, 1918, the regiment was part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade that defeated a German force at least twice its size.
The battle in France resulted in heavy losses of soldiers and horses, with 53 of the Regiment killed and a Victoria Cross being awarded to Lieut. G.M. Flowerdew.
“We are excited to be able to showcase artifacts and stories from this heroic but not well known event in Canadian history,” said Capt. Phil Webster, curator of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Museum. “This is a battle which showcased the heroism, dash and skill of Canadian soldiers in the Great War, and we hope this exhibit will help bring their story to light for anyone who has yet to hear it.”

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