We have all been set and split into different groups for two weeks to create a piece of work on specific person or category on the Civil War in Spain. I was set into a group of 5 which includes me and two from the Graphic Communication and 2 from Illustration. Our group were set a category called “Poems of Spain” which included some information on 4 key characters from Cardiff/Wales that wrote or volunteered for Spain in the Civil War.
In the information it gave us the background on the characters and how and why did they have something in common with the war. The first character was T.A.R Hyndman who was a prisoner in Spain because of bad behaviour in a political party against the Spanish government. In prison and while being in Spain for the three years up to the Civil War he witnessed mas murders and corruption by the collapsing government. In 1937 the year of the war he was released and he made his way back to London, before he left the government parties of Spain told him not to speak or write anything about what he witnessed. But after he came home he met up with his co-editor and then wrote a poem about the things he witnessed:
I tried not see,
But heard his voice.
How brown the earth
And the green trees.
One tree was his.
He could not move.
Wounded all over,
He lay there, moaning.
I bardly Knew;
I tore his coat.
It was easy
Shrapnel had helped.
But he was dying
And the blanket sagged.
‘God bless you, Comrades,
He will thank you’.
That was all.
No clenched fist,
Except in pain.
This poem and a collection of others were all selected by him and his editor to create book of a selection of poems that was named, “Poems of Spain”. In the book there was many of his work and many other poets that contributed to the cause. The poems of the war had an immediate effect on the public specially to a young teenager who lived in Roath, Cardiff. He was the second character we came across in the information booklet. Dannie Abse by now is well known for his work in poems and novels but all of his work all started by the effect of the civil war. He was a younger brother of 3, Leo and Wilfred Abse. Thanks to his brother Leo, this is were he got the gruesome information and stories of the war because Leo and his mate Sydney Hamm both discussed and wanted to contribute to the civil war. Sydney or “Sid” was two years older than Leo and with that he had the chance to volunteer to go to war with a party of 27 other volunteers in April 1937. 3 months into battle he was killed and on his body they found a letter he wrote few days before his death. In the letter he wrote about the horrors of war and the reality unveiled by the nineteen year old boy. Dannie Abse went to his funeral were they spoke of the letter and this sparked Dannie Abse to write about the gruesome war.
” There can be no victory without sacrifice”
Even though this was close to his heart and made him realise of the gruesome views of war, he wasn’t the first person to write about the war in Spain. In the late 1930s ( 1938-1939) a boy a year older than Dannie Abse called Mostyn Gibbs wrote a poem called “La Cruz da Espana” (The cross of Spain). This was one of the only civil war poems seen by the pupils because it was published in the school magazine. This poem also encouraged Dannie Abse to write a poem called “The Six Form Poet”.
With all this information we were set a brief to work in our group and to create a piece of work that will convey their story and also convey the relationship between Wales and Spain.
The first job was to meet the group and discuss ideas, four of us were there to discuss and in the discussion we came up with an idea to create 4 posters one of each character. I went with Mostyn Gibbs while the other three took David Abse, Sydney Hamm and Hyndman. They idea was to create a poster that included the quote of the poem that they did or were involved in.
These are my two designs, i wanted to make clear the Spanish them so i used the national colours red and yellow then designed the poster around the quote. As seen in the left poster i wanted the soldiers because the quote speaks of them and also the crumbling look that brings the brutal image of war. Then adding the outline of the World War officer is the symbol for Mostyn Gibbs because he went to the second world war. On the second poster i wanted a simple image of a galleon sailing to Spain in a piece before the storm image. Then like the other poster i added Mostyn Gibbs at the bottom which makes a heart felt image just by seeing the salute of the shadow. Out of the both i prefer the galleon poster because its simple but yet effective.
After coming together again we discussed our work in tutor groups to see what the thought of the idea. They liked the poster ideas and the agreed with me that the galleon poster is successful. But they believed there wasn’t a connection to Wales and it would be nicer to see it hand made. With the feedback we decided to do 3 posters and a booklet to show the poems and the information about the poets and their connections.
I decided to do the booklet because i had the most experience of book binding, while the other three did the three posters. The deadline is on the 14th of February, and in the mean time i will keep updating the progress of my work and the group.