Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pill Box

Pill Box - 10" x 14" - Watercolour

Pill boxes are among our least loved buildings which may be why I like them so much.

I was once caught in the middle of an argument between two foreign students learning English. Both had grandfathers who were involved in World War II. One grandparent, a German, had worked for the Organisation Todt and had been involved in the construction of the impressive Atlantic Wall beach defences in northern Europe. The other, a Frenchman, had been part of the forced-labour workforce who had been made to build the bunkers and fortifications near Caen. The young French student was describing how the workers had deliberately used a poor mix of concrete and half the number of reinforcement bars specified, in order to weaken the defences. The German student, torn between his anti-war sensibilities and the equally strong feeling that his engineer grandfather had been betrayed, said, "How could they have lived with such bad workmanship." In the hope of lightening the mood I said that we, in Britain, had built our own coastal defences. They both turned, regarding me with equal contempt, and said, "Yes, and it looks like it!"

This is another painting of the entrance to Rye Harbour, one of four which were awarded the Winsor & Newton/RI Award in the 200th exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours at the Mall Galleries, London. The exhibition runs until Sunday 25 March 2012.

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