As an artist and painter, one never knows when inspiration will hit… Last year, during a visit to the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, England, I encountered a remarkable photo and letter written during World War I, to Lord Kitchener by a young girl, Freda Hewlett. The poem inspired “War Horse” the play… An excerpt follows:
“Dear Lord Kitchener,
We are writing for our pony which we are very afraid will be taken for your army. Please spare her! Daddy says she is going to be a mother early next year and she is 17 years old. It would break our hearts to let her go. We have given 2 others, and 3 of our family are now fighting for the Navy.
Mother and all will do anything for you, but do please let us keep old Betty and send official word quickly before anyone comes.
Your Troubled Little Britishers,
Freda and PL Hewlett.
Don’t you just love the passion and creativity of children? Within days, they received their response.
Happily for them, their pony was spared…
The letters were inspiring enough but, by coincidence, I grew up and rode ponies in Haigh, exactly where ‘Old Betty’ and the “Troubled Little Britishers” lived 100 years ago. The result is my painting above “1914 : Old Betty, War Pony” by Lesley C. Humphrey is a 30” x 40” oil on canvas. It bears fragments of the “Little Britishers” letter and Lord Kitchener’s response. Colour and strong, gestural lines wind turmoil with hope in this painting, about gentle children caught in the turbulence and mayhem of war. It was commenced as an art exhibition at the centenary World War 1 event at Haigh Hall, Wigan, 2014.
Born and raised in England, Lesley Humphrey has lived for 31 years in Houston, Texas with her husband Larry and three children. Lesley is a prolific artist and horse aficionado. Her art is well known to Texans as well as internationally. In her words, Lesley “loves being a southern transplant.” You can view more of Lesley’s work at http://www.lesleyhumphrey/net.