Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My 10th and Last Entry to the Lead Painters' League - Belgian Refugees, August 1914

The final round of the 8th Lead Painters' League asked the participants for submissions focused on the Great War. With this in mind, I decided to once again draw upon a previous entry to the Challenge, this time a group of greyscale Belgian refugees. The only real change I made from the original composition (but an important one, I think) is my respectful nod to the haunting 'Little Girl in the Red Coat' from Spielberg's Schindler's List. These civilians are welcome additions to my WWI greyscale project.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the plight of the refugee has existed as long as war itself. The terror of impeding violence, the disruption of livelihood, the dissolution of security and the mortal risk to loved ones - these are all things that are clearly seen on the face of every refugee no matter their religion, colour, nationality or time in history.

The German destruction of the Belgian city of Louvain in August of 1914 is noted for contributing to the world's condemnation of the Central Powers' cause and pursuit of war. For five consecutive days the city was indiscriminately burnt and looted. Its famous library, housing one of the largest and most impressive collection of ancient manuscripts, was burnt and destroyed, as was Louvain's university. The church of St. Pierre was also badly damaged by fire. The citizenry of Louvain were subject to rape, robbery and beatings, but the most tragic was the mass shootings of hundreds of innocents regardless of age or gender. As Sir Edward Grey solemnly remarked upon the outbreak of  hostilities that summer, 'The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.'

So in these images I have tried to compose a plausible scene that would occur during those first few weeks of 1914. Seen here is a column of Belgian refugees fleeing the German advance while their hastily raised countrymen march to the front to attempt to stem the tide. 

The civilian figures are mostly new castings from Brigade Models' excellent range of Great War Belgians. The old couple with the wheelbarrow and dog are from Kawe's Westfalia Miniatures (meant for the Napoleonic period, but I find that they work quite well 100 years later). The cobblestones are hand painted, both on the figures' bases and the nylon roadway (being too cheap and lazy to get proper cobbled bases/roads). The others are older models from my collection, mostly Great War Miniatures, Brigade Models and the Minerva armoured car is (I believe) from 1st Corps. The buildings are from Kobblestone Miniatures.

Gripes about its format/rules aside, the LPL has become a much anticipated event in my hobby calendar. With it falling just after the hustle and bustle of the Challenge, I find it's a great way to get some of my own stuff done while enjoying what other participants come up with during each week's match-up.

Next up: Paris (really, I promise)!