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Why Camouflage?

I first heard about Leamington’s link with Camouflage several years ago when I was at a Festival in Birmingham. I met a camouflage ‘enthusiast’ who’d been involved in a Heritage Lottery Funded project here in 2008. Check out his website. He was so knowledgeable about this aspect of the town’s history that I began asking people if they’d heard of artists based in Leamington during WWII working in secret on camouflage for ships and buildings.

Through meetings with local Camouflage History expert Fergus Durrant (who led the 2008 HLF project) and Mair Evans (Arts officer at the district council) we discovered that Leamington was due to celebrate these artistic links in an exhibition at the Art Gallery and Museum in 2016. Fergus was telling such great stories about these people – and I wanted to share that with others. Perfect time for a Camouflage Festival!

Sarah Windrum seemed up for the idea and a few of us started meeting regularly in 2015 – Pip from Leamington LAMP, Barry from the Leamington History Group, Alice from the Art Gallery & Musem and more have joined us along the way….. slowly the word got around that this was worth celebrating…..

I find it amazing that these different groups of people came together to work together for a common goal. Painters, designers – and a chance for women to have a role! The work was technical as well as creative.

For me the link with art & science is a fascinating one. I love the somewhat subversive nature of camouflage. Disguise and deceive. I enjoy art when it’s so subtle that you don’t notice it is art at all – trying to blend in but still catches your eye….. a bit like camouflage…

From a historical perspective, the creative, quirky, artistic Leamington we see today has its origins in the 1930s. The emergence of Leamington as a ‘bohemian’ town was highlighted when all of these artists were living in town, interacting with local people, painting in their spare time.  Some of them sounded like interesting people – the painter Robin Darwin, grandson of Charles Darwin, Christopher Ironside, an opera set designer, and Capt Lancelot (Lancelot!!) Glasson.

And who knew that ‘camoufleur’ was a real word?!?

his subject represents why Leamington is such a vibrant, exciting and diverse place. I hope you can join in this years celebrations of camouflage and find something that captures your imagination and interest. T

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