Black and white sketch of a British Red Cross VAD ambulance driver, 1920-1921

Maker and role
Olive Mudie Cooke (b.1890, d.1925): Artist
Production date
Audio tour

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Illustration of a British Red Cross ambulance driver by Olive Mudie Cooke, made between the years of 1920 and 1921. Olive Mudie Cooke was a British artist best known for her works made during the First World War, documenting the places and lives during this period. In January 1916 she and her older sister went to France as volunteer ambulance drivers for First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. She also served in Italy during the conflicts, and these experiences are reflected in her works.

This piece is a pencil study, although she also worked with pen, paints and lithographs. There are many of her studies not only in this collection, but in others too.

The illustration is on brown paper, having a sketched quality to it, and it measures 25cm by 34cm once mounted on white backing and a simple black frame.
Fluent in French, Italian and German, Olive also worked as an interpreter for the British Red Cross on occasion. In 1920 the British Red Cross commissioned her to return to France to record the activities of Voluntary Aid Detachment units who were still providing care and relief.

I decided to choose this sketch because it’s one piece of a much larger collection of her works, studies that are vital to the illustration of the First World War. I feel this piece shows a sadness and tiredness to the ambulance driver, an emotional state that will have reflected Olive Mudie Cooke’s own feelings, as well as others involved. Such a simple drawing can say so much when given this context.

Audio recording by Rachel Whittington (volunteer), Manchester.
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Associated Person and Role
Olive Mudie Cooke (b.1890, d.1925)

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