Wartime Artists: Audrey Harper and Christian Vlasto

Art of the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2012

Mike Constable

Mike Constable discovers more artistic talent amongst the wartime boating trainees

Audrey Harper Although I knew that there were a number of art students among the World War Two Canal Boatwomen Trainees, I had no idea that there might be two competent watercolourists on one pair of boats. When John Pyper asked for my help with the hand-painted Christmas cards described in Winter 2010 NarrowBoat, I thought it most likely that the artist on the boats Sun and Dipper was Evelyn Hunt; I knew a number of her watercolours from that period survived within the family. However, in continuing my research into the Canal Boatwomen’s Training Scheme I discovered that Audrey Williams (née Harper) was living in Tasmania. Making contact with Audrey I learnt that she was also an artist (and indeed had worked in the Camouflage Directorate in Leamington like Evelyn did). Receiving a couple of copies of her watercolours, done while on the boats, caused me to look again at the Christmas cards and I immediately asked Audrey if she had painted at least one of them. The style …

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