The Art Department were fascinated by the way that the FEPOW experience led to a wealth of artistic creativity in spite of the hardship. The work of FEPOW artist, Jack Chalker, was of particular interest because of the drive to record things pictorially despite a dearth of materials or the permission from their captors to create or store such things. Discovery would certainly lead to a beating or worse.

That prisoners persevered is testament  to the human spirit  and determination but also to the perceived need to document and record in much the way that other prisoners wrote journals and diaries.

Learning about these feats of courage moved the pupils. Wrote Sarah in Year 9, in a letter to Jack, “…your pictures are hard to look at…”

But for all the girls it renewed their interest in art and as the two attached activities show, it connected the history to their own lives as they imagined the feelings and stimuli that evoked this art.

Activity 1: Making a memory tableau - charcoal in the style of Jack Chalker

  • Begin with pupils listening to an audio clip from Far East prisoner of war artist, Jack Chalker, whilst watching a slide show of his pen & ink sketches.
  • Introduction of the “quilt” idea – example used is image of Changi quilts. These were made up of embroidered squares created by the women and girls in Changi internment camp in Singapore, 1942-43. Photos of the quilts shown on screen. Brief discussion about inspiration for these quilts – creating something beautiful in captivity; using the device to send secret messages to husbands, sons and fathers in the men’s camp next door.
  • Pupils asked before half term to bring in one object or image that would remind them of home. They were to imagine that they had been taken captive in wartime.
  • From this image pupils asked to produce a sketch of their image or object using a limited range of materials. They will be working on a square of card measuring 12cm by 12cm (CD cover size).
  • Pupils will first of all use some old maps, books, scrap paper etc to make a collage background on the card. They will have the option to “age” by staining the card with tea.
  • On top of the collage pupils will create a sketch in the style of Jack Chalker using one or more of the following:
    • Bits of charcoal
    • Black and/or brown ink
    • Sticks, pieces of bamboo and withies, used as drawing implement

During the afternoon whilst pupils are doing Drama, members of staff will put together all of the squares produced by pupils using raffia, to make a quilt style wall hanging which will be displayed in the entrance hall at the end of the day.

Activity 2: Jungle sculpture - working with willow


The whole of year 7 will be working at Ness Gardens for the whole day with the artist Russell Kirk ( using bamboo and willow to make sculptures of animals which will be situated in the FEPOW garden at Tatton Park.

The garden will consist of a shelter which will hang the wall hangings and picture frames from the year 9 day. The girls will work on the theme of "home" and produce sculptures of pets or familiar animals from the FEPOW camps e.g. the pigs, birds, butterflies, oxen etc.