Words on War exhibition

Lee Miller & Marguerite Higgins 

Bombs Bursting © Veronica Bailey

9th - 15th September 2013

Showcase Gallery 
33-35 St John's Square 
London EV1M 4DS 

Opening Times 11-6pm 

Pioneering female war-correspondents Lee Miller (1907–1977) and Marguerite Higgins (1920-1966) risked their lives reporting from front line war zones: Miller - World War II (1939 - 1945) and Higgins - the Korean War (1951-1953). Both journalists frequented Hôtel Scribe in Paris during World War II , writing their reports on portable typewriters. Lee Miller wrote for American Vogue; Higgins for New York Herald Tribute, for which she won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism.

Through research at Syracuse University library, New York, and the Lee Miller Archives, Sussex, Bailey produced two separate series of works - Hermes Baby (2011) and Postscript (2005). Both have been exhibited worldwide, but never together.

Through titles including 'Bombs Bursting', 'Awakening Kiss', 'Go Germanywards' and 'Going Pariswards' the Postscript series features letters, telegrams and Rolleiflex captions which Miller sent during World War II. They are seen as paper objects; text hidden from the viewer, yet revealed only through the titles of the work.

In contrast Higgins Hermes Baby typewriter font becomes a photographic slide transparency of reported 'words on war'. Through the traditional darkroom process, short phrases such as 'A Purple Heart' , 'Green Soldiers' and 'Graveyard Foxholes' suggest frightening visions of combat, bleakly depicted on vintage Bromide paper.

Scale and process separates these two bodies of work. For the Words on War exhibition, two glass cases display combined research from Bailey's studio archive, drawing the two woman reporters together again for comparison and reflection.

Researching the archive of Savile Row custom bespoke tailors Henry Poole, Bailey inquired to the whereabouts of their paper tailor's patterns from World War I. Within old ledgers the poignant words 'Dead' were found to be frequently inscribed over the measurement notes of clients, many of whom were killed in action.

Angus Cundy, who runs the family business on Savile Row told Bailey that sadly he had "actioned a clear out of these paper patterns" in the 1980s. Bailey has produced a new image - Missing [in action] 2013 that reflects this and other unforgettable stories of loss.

Henry Poole & Co, Founders of Savile Row and Royal Warrant holders are exhibiting items from their bespoke archive at 15 Savile Row, London in September 2013. The exhibition 'The Art of Bespoke Tailoring and Wool Cloth' opens at the, Fashion & Textiles Gallery, The Bowes Museum, 21 September 2013 - 11th May 2014.
All artwork and images © Veronica Bailey 2024.