Cheshire artist's Great War work on display

Published date: 15 August 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A RENOWNED Cheshire artist has completed a piece depicting the Great War.

The First World War inspired work by Nick Bailey will now go on display at the Cheshire Military Museum in Chester.

Crewe-born artist Nicky now lives in Congleton.

The additional work of art sits beside his two other works that relate to both of his grandfathers’ participation in the Great War and Second World War.

These large Edwardian framed collages were produced from artefacts, including service records, about his grandfathers – Cecil Lear Bailey of Nantwich and Frank Leighton Jones of Crewe.

The new work is a portrayal of the last dogfight between the ‘Red Baron’ Manfred Von Richtofen in a Fokker Triplane and Captain Roy Brown of Canada in a Sopwith Camel. It also details Australian ground forces who also reputedly had a part in Richtofen’s demise.

Mr Bailey, said: “Ever since I was a small child I was fascinated by the World Wars, in particular the aeroplanes and pilots that fought in the Great War. Fifty years on I was in Manchester passing a model shop and noticed a limited edition set in die cast of Captain Roy Browns’ Sopwith Camel and Baron Manfred Von Richtofens’ Fokker Triplane.

“I bought the set and then thought about how to utilise these castings for a work of art that would depict the last moments of Richtofen’s life when he was brought down on April 21, 1918, over the trenches.”

The piece took six months to develop and even utilised artistic techniques that originate in the Renaissance and earlier such as ‘Gridding Up’ to scale up hand drawn images of the two fighters in combat.

The finished piece is a mixed media collage and is framed in period Edwardian style comprising information regarding where the aerial battle took place, who were the top ‘Aces’ from the British Commonwealth and Germany during the Great War and how many ‘kills’ they recorded. Also included is reference to the Pour Le Merite or ‘Blue Max’ medal awarded to the Red Baron during the Great War which was the highest order of merit awarded by the Kingdom of Prussia.

Further into the painting are depictions of the devastation on the ground over which these pilots fought and intriguingly an image of an Australian infantryman shooting into the sky at the ailing Fokker Triplane being pursued by Captain Brown.

To this day their remains debate and intrigue in military history circles as to who actually fired the fatal shot. Was it Captain Roy Brown in his Sopwith Camel, an Australian soldier, a British soldier or someone else?

Whoever it was will probably remain a mystery, but the event had a massive psychological impact on the German forces and civilians and helped to bring about the end of this terrible conflict some six months later in November 1918.

Mr Bailey’s artworks will be on display at the Cheshire Military Museum until the end of the year.

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