Creativity can’t be stopped, even in the worst of conditions. Such was the case during World War I when soldiers and sailors used materials they had on hand to create art. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
Available materials included shell casings, melted shrapnel, fabric, wood and bone.
Despite the name, trench art wasn’t just produced in the trenches. It also was produced on ships, in the air force, in prisoner of war camps and in hospitals. Civilians living near war zones also produced artwork while some trench art was mass produced using war materials.
These works of art are valuable finds today. Many didn’t survive the metal drives of World War II.
The reasons men created art varied. Sometimes it was to alleviate boredom, but often there was a larger reason. Men made gifts for loved ones back home, commemorated important battles or used art as therapy while in convalescent hospitals.
Civilians produced art to sell to tourists as souvenirs or as thank-you gifts.
Trench Art Examples?
The artists crafted a variety of things including models of weapons, jewelry, cups, tapestries, crucifixes, and containers.
Here are some examples of trench art that can be found in collections around the world.
Updated: 20 October 2020