Henry Williamson, The Patriot’s Progress

In tandem with the workshop Representing and Historicising Les Gueules cassées, we are hosting a pop-up exhibition of Henry Williamson’s The Patriot’s Progress.

The book is the account of the World War I experience of a plain, unassuming man, John Bullock, and is remarkable both for the plainness of its narration and the synergy between text and image which takes place within it. It was William Kermode’s lino cuts, documenting his own experience of the Great War, which inspired Henry Williamson to write the harrowing account of John Bullock’s experience in the trenches on the battlefields of France. Besides Williamson’s unsentimental and beautifully crafted descriptions, it is the precise rawness and immediacy of William Kermode’s imagery that compelled us to return to this treasure from Special Collections, University of Exeter. The original manuscript is concurrently exhibited at Special Collections, the Old Library, University of Exeter.


Many thanks to Dr Christine Faunch Head of Heritage Collections, University of Exeter and the generous support of Exeter University’s Arts and Cultures.

David Houston Jones

Cristina Burke-Trees

Representing and Historicising Les Gueules cassées workshop


13th November 2013, Innovation Centre, Rennes Drive,   University of Exeter 9.00 Coffee and registration
9.10-9:30 Presentation of the project: 1914 FACES 2014 David Houston Jones
9:30 – 10:30 Speaker 1 Dr Suzannah Biernoff (Birbeck) – ‘The   Rhetoric and Representation of Facial Injury in WWI Britain’. Chair:   David Houston Jones
10:30-11:00 Coffee
11.00-12.00 Speaker 2 Marjorie Gehrhardt (Exeter),   ‘”Rebuilding Men”: Facially Injured Soldiers at The Queen’s   Hospital, Sidcup’. Chair: Suzannah Biernoff
12:00 – 1:00 Speaker 3 Dr Sarah Bulmer (Exeter), ‘Injury Politics in   Contemporary Britain: Rethinking the body and war’. Chair: Suzanne Steele
1:00 – 2:00 Lunch
2:00-3:00 Speaker 4 Dr Tim Rees (Exeter), The Hidden Face of War?
‘Deformity’ and the Public Gaze before the First World War’
Chair: Laura Rowe
3:00-4.00 Speaker   5 Dr Sophie Delaporte (UPJV, Amiens), ‘Portraits de gueules cassées’. Chair: Marjorie Gehrhardt
4.00 – 4:30 Coffee
4:30- 5:30 Speaker 6 Kerry Neale (Australian War Memorial), Faces   from the ‘uttermost ends of the earth’. Chair: Tim Rees
5:30 Close

Paddy Hartley, Faces of Battle: Project Facade and the Gillies Archives Episode 1

In this joint event with Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter, Paddy Hartley spoke about his earlier work on the Wellcome-funded Project Façade and the resulting exhibition at the National Army museum in 2007-8. The residency Paddy undertook then gave rise to a range of striking uniform sculptures which feature period military uniforms as a surface upon which to tell the stories of servicemen.

The sculptures, which were displayed at the National Army Museum for ten months, celebrate the pioneering surgical techniques of the New Zealand surgeon Sir Harold Gillies – many of which form the basis of plastic surgery techniques used today. Paddy spoke about the place of Project Façade in his career trajectory, and the concern with the face which characterises both his artistic enquiry and his work in fashion design. He spoke to about his upcoming residency at the University of Exeter within the FACES project and his desire to revisit the stories of WWI servicemen from the south west and to find new forms to accommodate those stories.


Les Défigurés, Amiens

A recent exhibition at La Maison de la Culture, Amiens, asks searching questions of our attitudes to facial disfigurement. Les Défigurés consists of large-format photographs of disfigured or facially injured people treated by Prof Bernard Devauchelle.

The photographer, Cyril Crépin, foregrounds the stigmatisation which surrounds facial injury and our enduring reticence when faced with the injured face. In this work, Cyril talks about the need to make ‘the unbearable beautiful’. These difficult images are all too often relegated to the margins of the visible. What, though of the ‘unsuspected beauty’ which can emanate from them? How do we take account of this category without running into ethical problems like those which give rise to the project in the first place? Do we risk normalising our responses? There’s a dilemma here between creating a new aesthetic category and attempting to retain the shock of the ‘unbearable’.