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Lecturer sketches back in time

Local illustrator and artist Andrew Jones, who also lecturers Graphic Arts at the Hugh Baird University Centre, is encouraging members of the general public to take in his unique free exhibition titled ‘A Finnish Sketchbook’.

As part of the University Centre’s Scholarly Activity Programme, Andy was invited to Finland to illustrate a winter training programme with a difference. The training trip, which took place in Kalkkinen, recreated the living conditions of a group of soldiers serving in the Belgium Ardennes during the winter of 1944-45. This included creating improvised foxholes, mine clearing exercises and working with period live firing field tactics.

Speaking on returning to the Hugh Baird University Centre, Andy, who delivers the Graphic Arts – Foundation Degree (FdA) and the course’s BA (Hons) Top up at the University Centre, both of which are approved by the University of Central Lancashire, said:

The trip came about through Joel Coupland. Joel is ex British Army and is now a resident of Finland. He is an author for various magazines and websites relating to World War 2 (WW2) and it was in this professional capacity that he had championed my artwork when he interviewed me some 18 months ago.

The other people on the trip were current and ex Finnish, Dutch and British armed forces members. These men are ‘Living Historians’ with a real interest in WW2. The trip to Finland was an opportunity to connect with history through first-hand experiences.

During the trip, each member of the group took on a role in order to recreate the period in as much realism as possible. The role I took on was that of an artist serving in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO). Conditions were harsh and we survived on basic food in basic living quarters.

Early on I discovered that I couldn’t do much sketching during the day as it was far too cold to stand for a long period of time. I was also required to experience some of the activities that had been set up, just as a real war artist would have done. While on evening fire duty, I found time to reflect and draw on what I had observed and experienced throughout the day.

Actually undertaking the sketching took place on a makeshift stool I created using logs. Sketching was difficult as the only light I had to work with was that created by the fire and by candles. This all added to the authenticity of the experience as these were the conditions my predecessors would have work with some 75 years ago.

To view a gallery of Andy's sketches, visit our Facebook gallery.

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