Topic: Artist

[The Collection’s own website entry has a good zoom facility on this painting https://bit.ly/3o1Wq9v]
[From the Wikipedia page on the artist, it is mentioned Ford came from Overton in Hampshire and in May 1940 joined what became the Home Guard and worked as a coal miner whilst also doing farm work. In July 1941 the War Artists’ Advisory Committee accepted ‘War Weapons Week in a Country Town’ and included it in their National Gallery exhibition.]

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The country town of the title was identified as Overton in Hampshire where the artist was born, and the location information has now been added to the artwork description field.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Julian Whybra,

The flint building on the right looks like this might be a town in Norfolk, Suffolk or possibly north Essex. The rising High Street is reminiscent of Halstead.

Michael Ford was born at Overton, near Winchester. When he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1944 and 1946 the address recorded for him was Cobley Wood, Micheldever, Hampshire, which is located midway between Overton and Winchester. I couldn't immediately find a good match for this subject either in Overton or Micheldever. It will be interesting to see whether a contributor can pin down the exact location.

Wendy Howard,

Looking on Google maps there is a very similar school on the corner of Winchester St, Overton which leads on to parades of shops. The Google maps does show a lot of trees which impair the view, but there are similarities in the varying sizes of the shops in view.

Thank you David for researching the Overton memoir and to Wendy for her excellent piece of detective work in identifying Winchester Street in Overton. Although there has been considerable development in Overton over the past eighty years, and alterations to existing buildings, it is clear that the artist painted the subject 'War Weapons Week in a Country Town' in the village of his birth, Overton in Hampshire. I shall be recommending that we conclude the discussion on that basis but not for another seven days in order to allow further comments to be made should anyone wish to do so.

Kieran Owens,

Could a hi- rest image of the gable end wall of the red brick building be posted so as to enable the painted text be seen. Also, please post any of the shop names.

Kieran, sorry, I should have made more explicit that the zoomable feature is much better than the Art UK largest size image, but I have attached six screen grabs from that zoom feature of the details you wanted. Surely also well-known wartime posters on the stone blocks. David

Overton's War Weapons Week in 1941 was between the 21st and 26th April (see attached). Ford's painting was noted as being accepted by the War Artists' Advisory Committee and included in their National Gallery exhibition. In 'The War Artists' by Meirion and Susie Harris, 1983, on page 271 Ford's painting is illustrated, and on page 270 opposite these exhibitions are talked about: 'From the National Gallery display [1940 one referenced], smaller exhibitions were subsequently withdrawn to tour the provinces. Five separate selections of up to eighty works each were circulated round the larger provincial galleries by the Museums Association, timed to coincide wherever possible with local War Weapons Weeks, and a further three, composed of smaller pictures, round towns, villages and army camps by the British Institute of Adult Education as part of its 'Art for the People' programme.

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Marcie Doran,

The attached article from ‘The Morecambe Guardian’ of March 5, 1949, discusses the grand parade at Overton in 1941. Here is some of the text:

“At Overton there was a grand parade in which the Home Guard took part as pictured here, and the school kiddies also marched in the procession carrying saving posters. Some of these youngsters will have grown into quite self possessed young ladies by now.”

There are several photos of the event.

Osmund Bullock,

I'm afraid that's a different Overton, Marcie, about 250 miles away from our one in Hampshire - it's near Morecambe in Lancashire. And yours, David, is almost certainly the Overton (aka Overton-on-Dee) that is just inside North Wales, near Wrexham, about 180 miles distant - the other places mentioned in the article re local fundraising are all in that area.

It's worth noting where the newspaper you are looking at is based, in this case Morecambe and Liverpool respectively - it is vanishingly unlikely that a local paper in the 1940s would report minor events in a village such a long way away.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran hasn't quite got it right (though it's the right junction) - the view is not eastwards along London Road, but southwards up Winchester Street. The excellent aerial view is rotated 90 degrees from the normal map orientation, i.e. right is south, not east. And in fact the location - or at least the artist's point-of-view - is really at the junction of Winchester St & Overton Hight St: it only becomes London Rd on the other side of the junction. i.e. off to the left of what we see in the painting. See attached.

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Osmund, of course you are right, and apologies for the error. I think in one of the aforementioned documents, that I should rightly credit as research undertaken by Richard Waldram on the Overton Pictures website https://bit.ly/3oh9Fn6, he indicates that the War Weapons Week in Overton (Hampshire) was in May 1941, see pages 5-6 of the PDF. Additionally page 4 of the PDF showing fundraising for 'Prisoners of War Week' and 'Prisoners of War, Overton' and pages 7-8 should be of interest to the Collection in relation to their 'Italian Prisoners of War Working on the Land' painting by Ford. I didn't really spell that out properly before. David

Marcie Doran,

Thank you, Osmund. I’m very glad you spotted my error, which I regret. I did not imagine there could be two villages named Overton.

It has been demonstrated beyond doubt that the country town depicted in this work is Overton in Hampshire. The members of the public shown in the foreground of the painting are standing at the junction of High Street Overton and Winchester Street. Winchester Street has a rising gradient and our view along that road is in a southerly direction. It is recommended that this discussion now be closed and the record updated to reflect these findings. Many thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion.

The Collection have commented: 'Thank you very much for running this discussion. We have updated our records and online entry based on the great information and successful identification crowdsourced by your users.'