Trench Art

June 26, 2010

Trench Art is the common though misleading name given to these objects, and which were made in metal, cloth, wood and bone, by soldiers, Prisoners of War, and civilians between 1914 and 1939. These items were once familiar to every soldier and family of the war generation but today they seem to have slipped through the net of history, though not the world of military collectables. Currently, Trench Art is not rare, nor, in its majority, is it locked away in museums. It is ever present, bought and sold by an increasing number of dealers, collectors, and the curious across the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the USA and beyond. Every day, somewhere in the world, Trench Art can be found in flea markets, car-boot sales, militaria fairs, and, of course on the internet.

Trench Art is full of contradictions, the term itself evocative but misleading. Yet, the objects it describes are a unique kind of artistic endeavour, rich in symbolism and irony. Trench Art’s astonishing variety is a testament to human skills and fortitude under the extreme pressures of industrialized war. As you can imagine I spend a good amount of time rummaging through antique stores, resale shops and flea markets and I am struck by objects such as these.  Who made them? What war are they from?

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