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Doodle Dreamer

© the artist. Photo credit: Bushey Museum and Art Gallery

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Self portrait of Douglas Chowns as a child in school uniform with a gas mask and collaged identity documentation.

Bushey Museum and Art Gallery

Bushey


Date

1994

Medium

oil on canvas

Measurements

H 110 x W 75.5 cm

Accession number

BUSMT 2016.66

Acquisition method

gift, 2016

Work type

Painting

Inscription description

Verso: A reflection on the pressures of growing up in war in Bushey - and post war times. The denied schooling, rationed food and clothes, poverty from the effect of day and night Blitz. Retired pensioners, our volunteer teachers all bony tobacco fingered old men while all the young were away fighting. An American bombing raid still on the library wall when the school building was returned by the USAF. Years of sleeping in a dug out shelter in the garden, automatically falling flat and covering ones head in a gutter or anywhere at the sound of a Doodle Bug V1. My black shiny tin gas mask case we were required to carry, getting dented on hitting the pavement as an unmanned flying bomb passed above less than 300 feet over my head, I was age seven. Called "Canaries" on account of our local snobby yellow Kingsfield Prep School caps. 2,572 bombs fell in 1940 alone, within a mile of my home. The LMS railway and Arches a target, but Bushey no. The fields peppered with bomb craters, the destroyed Church Lynch gate and High Street homes all victim night and day to enemy aircraft, V1 doodle bugs, and V2' rockets. Am I bitter? - yes, of course. This self portrait wearing my only clothes, my school uniform, when we wore wellies collecting shrapnel and exploring bomb damaged houses. A Polio arm band echoes other paintings in this series of 12. All featured appropriate modern arm bands, the 1994 series based on the Druid bog man found in Cheshire, a Fox totem on his arm his sacrificial death to stop the Roman advance. The Greek eponymous Dying Gaul pose featured in many. A Bushey & Oxhey Crusader bible class badge in my lapel, my Godly protection. My war time Identity card, and my later RAF official secrets act declaration that threatened death if I divulged official secrets, and although when demobilised a military 24 hour reserve travel warrant, to be used in emergency. Then the Cold War. Pressures I never wish our grandchildren or others to experience. A disaster for all WW2 caused suffering to all ordinary people and nations throughout Europe and the world. My concern the subject of this painting is that nothing appears to have been learned in 2000 years.


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Bushey Museum and Art Gallery

Rudolph Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire WD23 3HW England

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