Coinciding with the centenary of the start of the First World War, this exhibition focused on the experience of British soldiers between July and November 1916 through O’Donoghue’s series of paintings Seven Halts on the Somme.
Each painting in this series is a bold and vivid interpretation of a place in the landscape, representing, as O’Donoghue states, ‘seven places where the army was stopped in 1916, seven places where lives were stopped and also seven places where I have stopped years later and tried to remember’. The artist used intense hues of yellow, red and green on square canvases on five feet and one inch, in reference to the height men had to be to qualify for service.
Hughie O’Donoghue’s awareness of the Battle of the Somme began as a child, but his most intense engagement occurred during a residency in the Drawing Schools at Eton College (2013 – 2014) where he researched the seven halts further in the college’s First World War memorial library. O’Donoghue spent many months exploring the extensive collection of letters and diaries from World War One, alongside his own research into the landscapes of Northern France and his own family connection to the conflict.
To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Seven Halts on The Somme by Hughie O’Donoghue RA was also exhibited at Leighton House Museum, London, 30 June – 2 October 2016.
Hughie O’Donoghue’s paintings Seven Halts on the Somme are now on permanent display in the Millington Drake Gallery, Eton College