|Soldiers resting on a pile of shell cases after the |
Battle of Passchendaele, September 1917
Imperial War Museums © IWM (Q 2915)
|Matchbox cover decorated with insignia of the|
Royal Canadian Artillery
Imperial War Museums © IWM (EPH 4285)
|Battlefield souvenir crucifix |
Imperial War Museums © IWM (EPH 1915)
|Trench art of unknown origin and purpose|
The meaning of trench art is ambiguous. On the one hand, the fragmented nature of the objects can be seen as reflecting the literal fragmentation of objects, landscapes, and bodies during battle. On the other hand, trench art might be looked at as an attempt to exert some kind of control over the chaos of war, by turning its débris into something useful and even beautiful. For civilians, trench art provided a link to absent loved ones, and by bringing these objects into their homes, they in a sense “domesticated” the war, making shells, bullets, and grenades an everyday part of their environment.
Nicholas J. Saunders, “Bodies of Metal, Shells of Memory: ‘Trench Art’ and the Great War Re-cycled,” Journal of Material Culture 5, no. 1 (March 2000): 43-67.
Fergus Read, “Trench Art,” Imperial War Museums