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Title: Leslie Cole, Malta and the art of visual persuasion in 1943
Authors: Miggiani, Caroline
Keywords: War artists -- Malta
World War, 1939-1945 -- Malta
Cole, Leslie, 1910-1976
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: The postgraduate paper will continue building on the research carried out with respect to the writer’s undergraduate paper which documented the contribution made by British war artists active in Malta and the Mediterranean during WWII. In view of the fact that the undergraduate paper dealt with the modest contribution made by Maltese artists during WWII, and that very little new material has become available to the writer since then, it is felt that an in-depth re-examination of the local artistic scene will not contribute significantly to the present analysis. Comparing Cole’s Malta paintings to those of his fellow British war artists will, on the other hand, demonstrate shared concerns. Although interest in WWII war art is now on the increase, it has been the subject of relatively few scholarly research papers, and none to date in Malta. After the cessation of hostilities in 1945 many of the paintings in question were placed in storage and consequently out of public consciousness. As memories of WWII are now receding into the realm of history, and the period is being revisited with a certain nostalgia, it is natural that previously untapped material from the period is being assessed. There are dozens of written testimonials that have eulogised Malta’s war effort but none so far which specifically discuss images of Malta employed as British propaganda. This area of research has so far been neglected and it is hoped that this study will give a broader, though not exhaustive appreciation, of Colonial Malta in 1943. The fact that most of Cole’s commissioned works are still in storage and housed within the reserve collections of the Imperial War Museum in London and Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta has resulted in limited access to them. Indeed this constraint has proved to be one of the main handicaps when researching the British war artist. From a collection of fifty-one known Malta works and ten Mediterranean ones only eight are available for consultation in public collections in Malta and this has impeded a fuller appreciation of Cole’s artistry. Cole participated in several collective exhibitions throughout the war at the National Gallery and at the Ferens Gallery in Hull. He also exhibited his Malta paintings during his first one-man exhibition at the British Institute, Valletta between 26 and 31 July 1943. The IWM recognised his contribution to war art by holding a second posthumous oneman exhibition entitled To the Frontline, Leslie Cole, Paintings of the Second World War which was on display from October 1985 to February 1986. The dissertation sets out to clarify the war artist’s position locally and identify the constraints imposed upon him in Malta whilst also bearing in mind that war art had an obligation to record events and valorise the war-time image.
Description: M.A.HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2017

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