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Artwork of the Month - June 2011


Harbour Scene

Artist: Adrian Hill (1895-1977)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Status: Permanent collection
Item No.: GMAG 1987.189

Adrian Hill; Author, War Artist and Pioneer

From the serious artist to the enthusiastic amateur, the face of Adrian Hill will be familiar, his warm smile emanating from the cover of many of his books on how to draw and paint. These guides to painting were clear precise and unpretentious, giving the beginner the base on which to practice and learn drawing, watercolour and oil painting techniques.

Hill also appeared on television in the 1950s in his childrens program 'Sketch Club', but his artistic achievements were far greater than his television programme or books. Hill was one of the first official War Artists to be commissioned by the Ministry during World War I while serving in the Scouting and Sniping Section of the Honourable Artillery Company on the Western Front. When in 'No man's land', Hill recounts;

"I advanced in short rushes, mostly on my hands and knees with my sketching kit dangling round my neck".

Another of Hill's major achievements was his groundbreaking theories on the advantages of 'Art Therapy' and its uses in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers. These theories were then applied more widely to civilians recovering from long-term illnesses. In 1945 Hill published his theories in the book Art Versus Illness which was the basis on which 'Art Therapy' grew hand-in-hand with the emerging profession of occupational therapy.

Where is it?

Although we are delighted to have an example of Hill's paintings in the collection it is rather by chance that it is here at all. The painting was purchased from a London auction house in the mid 1980s, catalogued as 'St Peter Port Harbour, Guernsey'. Those who know St Peter Port will see this is clearly not the case. The confusion may have been caused by the registry letters on the small fishing boat, which could be read as GU, but is in fact BU, the registry letters for Burntisland in Fife, Scotland. If any of our visitors recognise the exact location, we would be delighted if you could let us know.