The Secret Art of Survival

A forthcoming public exhibition of previously unseen artwork that was created by Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOW), whilst in captivity during World War II and at great risk to their lives. 

Over 50,000 British servicemen became FEPOW, having been captured by the Japanese between December 1941 and March 1942.  FEPOWs were subjected to years of neglect, malnutrition, disease and slave labour, resulting in death rates of nearly 25%.  Many returned via Liverpool following their time in captivity and were treated at LSTM. This was the beginning of a relationship that was to continue for over six decades.

Whilst incarcerated, some FEPOWs used art as a means to document their experiences in the camps.  The production of this art was risky, as keeping any form of records was strictly forbidden.  It was also an important coping mechanism for many FEPOWs.  The fact that some of it survives today is testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the FEPOWs, and their determination to preserve this important element of history for future generations. 

Through LSTM's longstanding relationships with FEPOW families, we have identified a number of previously unknown descendants in whose guardianship lies a remarkable collection of previously undocumented artwork.

In partnership with, and located at the University of Liverpool's Victoria Gallery and Museum, the exhibition will run from October 2019 to mid-June 2020 is the result of over six years’ research to identify and locate previously unseen art works created secretly and kept hidden by British servicemen during WWII Far East captivity. To date over 40 artists have been identified; the exhibition will bring together their work for the first time.

A full schedule of events in conjunction with the exhibition will be available here in due course.