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On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing T.N.T)

HARTRICK, Archibald Standish (1864 - 1950)

On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing T.N.T) - A. S. Hartrick
On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing T.N.T) - A. S. Hartrick
On Munitions: Dangerous Work (Packing T.N.T)

Date: 1917

Media: lithograph on paper

Acquired: 1919; Presented by Ministry of Information

Accession Number: NWM A 13210

Collection: The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals

In his autobiography Hartrick recalled not being allowed into the munitions hut, ‘in case a nail in my boots or anything like that might cause a spark’.  He wrote that the worker was ‘a very pretty girl, though her hair and face were stained yellow with the chemicals’.  Many so-called ‘munitionettes’ suffered prolonged exposure to sulphuric acid, which caused this effect.  They were named ‘canary girls’.

These prints record the vital contribution made by women as part of the war effort. When more men were required for fighting in 1915, there was a call to women to 'do their bit'. In taking on jobs in areas traditionally reserved for men the female workforce raised levels of production both in factories and fields. Although much of the work was both arduous and dangerous, the war allowed many women an unprecedented degree of freedom, and an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in previously male-dominated spheres. Hartrick was sent to make studies on the spot, and many of the compositions seem deliberately posed - as propaganda images they give no indication of the hardships and hazards that women faced on a daily basis.

The artist and illustrator Hartrick was born in India and brought up in Scotland. He first studied medicine, before attending the Slade School in London, and art schools in Paris, exhibiting in the 1887 Paris Salon. In 1909 he became a founding member of the Senefelder Club. He also turned to teaching the method, writing an instruction book on Lithography As A Fine Art in 1932. 

This work forms part of the portfolio The Great War: Britain's Efforts and Ideals, a series of 66 lithographic prints commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1917. The series provide a broad and fascinating representation of Britain’s war objectives, military activities and effort on the Home Front.

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