Framed artwork made from toothpaste

Production date
1944
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Description
This tranquil winter landscape depicts a river, hills abounding in trees, and a bridge that leads to a church covered in snow. Recreated with the help of two unusual materials, toothpaste and x-ray paper, the winter scene was painted by a German Prisoner of War at Shotley Hospital, near Newcastle. The drawing formed part of the Christmas ornaments that the prisoners of war made to decorate their ward during the 1944 festive season.

I was immediately captivated by the serenity of the snow-filled landscape. However, what is most intriguing about this drawing is the tools used in its creation. The unusual choice makes sense if we consider that toothpaste and x-ray paper were probably the most accessible materials to the hospitalised prisoners of war. Large numbers of injured German soldiers were held captive in Britain during World War Two.

While German prisoners of war in the UK were not the responsibility of the British Red Cross, the organisation was sometimes asked to provide neutral and impartial help to wounded prisoners of war. The peaceful mood exuding from this drawing is testament to how such acts of humanity helped the soldiers pull through the horrors of war.

Audio recording by Andra Paun (Volunteer), Edinburgh.
Collection Type
Objects
Media/Materials
History
The scene has been made by a German Prisoner of War, at Shotley Hospital, near Newcastle. Presented to Staff Nurse Edith Macdonald in January 1945 by Captain Kutz on behalf of the German POWs. The painting had formed part of the Christmas decorations that the POWs had made to decorate their ward during the 1944 festive season.
Catalogue Number
1813/1
Associated Person and Role
Edith Macdonald

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