Posted 3 years ago
I worked very hard on the computer to bring this photo to a useable state, as it was from a very tiny image on newsprint type paper. Added some colours with major editing to bring out the trench art in the picture.
In this remarkable photo from a museum in Brussels we see some soldiers, who had been professional metalsmiths in civilian life, such as the Belgian copper workers from Antwerp who joined the Belgian army in 1914 and were quickly moved to the comparatively quiet front along the River Yser (Ijzer) near Diksmuide. Here they are using their transferred skills to working artillery shell cases with either their own tools or those bought from local ironmongers using paper templates to create the design. We see them making trench-art shell vases.
One example of this was the trench art made by 2 brothers Jules And Camiel Versavel from the town of Passendale, Belgium. Along with the rest of the family they were evacuated and moved to the safe area outside Ypres. Here between 1916-17 they created extraordinary works of artillery-shell-case trench art. The family's private collection is a treasure trove made more valuable by the fact that 100 Yr. old Gabriel, the nephew of the two men, was still alive in 2002, and was able to recount how his uncles made the items, and as he as a 13 yr old boy had helped to collect the empty shell cases. The family now have a private collection and an important piece is a windmill whose body is a shell made in 1916, with a "circular" walkway composed of rifle bullets in sequences of 3-French, Belgian & British- and sails made from between beaten copper drive-bands. Such is the complex imagery.
I have seen several similar vases go up in private auction within the last 2 weeks.