Strictly speaking, trench art is a phrase that describes folk art created by soldiers who were stuck in the trenches during World War I. But trench art as a more broadly defined genre includes all sorts of art objects made during numerous military conflicts going back to the early 1800s, including items produced by prisoners of war.
Leaving aside the question of era, there are several generally accepted categories of trench art. Some of the earliest examples are wooden boxes made by French prisoners captured by the English during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).
By World War I, prisoners on both sides of that struggle were engraving and carving everything from spent shell casings to soup bones, transforming them into poignant mementos and useful historical records of the war to end all wars. Some pieces are particular to certain battle zones. For example, Turkish prisoners were known for their beaded snakes.
Those soldiers who did not have the time or tools to engrave spent artillery shells in the trenches often brought them home, where they would be embossed, fluted, and flared. Engravings on canteens and mess kits were probably done in the field, as were paintings on helmets.
Other examples of trench art include letter openers and knives made from bullets and shells; presentation plates hammered and engraved from flattened casings; lighters formed out of enemy belt buckles; and inkwells carefully crafted from fuse caps.
Soldiers recovering from their wounds also made trench art, usually in the form of embroidered badges and belts. Similar pieces made by wives and girlfriends waiting for their loved ones to return home are also considered trench art.
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Recent News: Trench Art
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Full list of First World War events throughout the region as nation ...The Northern Echo, July 31st
The Darlington Veterans Club will host a one day exhibition of military equipment, medals and trench art from the First World War in the basement of Binns, in High Row. The exhibition will open to the public at 10am, with a number of veterans club...Read more
15000 expected at Maiden City FestivalU.TV, July 31st
The Maiden City Festival will also play host to the Ulster Highland Dance Championships, while a First World War exhibition - The Art of War - will showcase trench art incorporating original artefacts that were crafted by soldiers during WWI. Festival...Read more
Borough marking 100 years since the start of First World WarHinckley Times, July 31st
It will include a quiz of First World War slang, with the chance to win a commemorative £5 coin, a talk about the history and work of the Royal British Legion, sampling of a trench cake, like the ones sent to soldiers at the front, examples of trench...Read more
Assortment of World War One artefacts will be on display in HarpendenSt Albans & Harpenden Review, July 30th
These will include original trench art made by the soldiers and an old-fashioned bus made from matchsticks. Other items will be on display, such as pictures, coins, medals, cap badges, and a German Pickelhaube helmet - all original. The window will be...Read more
A round-up of the best comedy, music, theatre and exhibitions, July 30-31Birmingham Mail, July 30th
Art from Ammunition: Trench Art from the First World War, items created by people from 20 countries and loaned by a Warwickshire private collection, until December 14. 01926 645500. Dunchurch Art Gallery: Exhibition of paintings, drawings and pen and...Read more
Over 250 performers to bring the old city to life at the 15th Maiden City FestivalDerry Journal, July 29th
First World War Exhibition “The Art of War” – An exhibition of trench art incorporating original artefacts that were crafted by soldiers during WWI complemented by a modern contemporary artist's interpretation of the conflict. Living History Theatre...Read more
From Ammunition to Art: Trench Art from the First World WarThe Oxford Times, July 14th
Jul 15-Dec 12. Part of a national programme to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, this display showcases objects from a Warwickshire-based private collection of Trench Art. Trench Art is a term used to describe objects made from...Read more
Trench art at Witter honors veteransPilot Tribune, July 9th
This month's exhibit at the Witter Art Gallery in Storm Lake is "Trench Art," a collection of art pieces made from military hardware by soldiers dating to World War I. Many of the pieces are made from spent shell casings, fired by friend or foe, picked...Read more