A Peterborough artist inspired by her husband’s extensive First World War knowledge is using her work to tell the conflict’s most powerful stories.
Charron Pugsley-Hill admits she is now obsessed by covering the Great War after beginning a series of paintings to commemorate the conflict’s 100th anniversary.
The contemporary artist from Thorpe Road is producing her work from key battle sites as she seeks inspiration.
And she will soon travel to Brussels where Edith Cavell, the legendary Peterborough-trained nurse, heroically tended to wounded soldiers from both sides.
Charron is creating ‘The Blanket Of Poppies’ which will include 49 felted and embellished poppies, one for each year of Edith’s life. These will be made by 49 women in upcoming workshops.
Charron is producing annual paintings on the war until either 2018 or 2019, and she admits husband Tom Hill, who she met at a civil war re-enactment, was her inspiration.
She said: “My husband is interested in it so I thought I should do something to commemorate it for him. Then it snowballed.
“It’s not something I want to do now, I need to do it. I’m really passionate about telling the stories.
“I’m obsessed and my husband is finding it funny.”
Charron, who took up art in 2010 having left her role as conservation officer with Natural England, recently featured in an international exhibition called ‘Flux’ at the Rag Factory in London.
She will be showing her paintings at schools, which she hopes will encourage children to learn stories about the war, then share them.
Her works so far include one on the Battle of Mons - the first of the conflict - and the famous 1914 Christmas Day football match between British and German troops.
But it is her research into Edith - who was executed by a German firing squad - and is commemorated at Peterborough Cathedral and elsewhere in the city, that is having the most profound impact.
Charron said: “I’m completely obsessed with Edith Cavell. It shocked me how little people knew about her.”
The commemorative blanket featuring Edith will be laid at events to mark the centenary of her execution on October 12.
Charron, who is seeking sponsorship, is looking for more women to join her workshops to create poppies for the blanket. The workshops are on June 30 and July 1, 7 and 16, with lunch and refreshments provided and training on how to make felt from scratch.
Anyone who is interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit email@example.com. Charron is also displaying her work at her studio in Thorpe Road, next to the banners on Longthorpe Tower, on June 27-8 and July 4-5 from 11am-5pm.