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1. The Great War letters of an Oxford family

The First World War has survived as part of our national memory in a way no previous war has ever done. Below is an extract from Full of Hope and Fear: The Great War Letters of an Oxford Family, a collection of letters which lay untouched for almost ninety years. They allow a unique glimpse into the war as experienced by one family at the time, transporting us back to an era which is now slipping tantalizingly out of living memory. The Slaters – the family at the heart of these letters – lived in Oxford, and afford a first-hand account of the war on the Home Front, on the Western Front, and in British India. Violet and Gilbert’s eldest son Owen, a schoolboy in 1914, was fighting in France by war’s end.

Violet to Gilbert, [mid-October 1917]

I am sorry to only write a few miserable words. Yesterday I had a truly dreadful headache which lasted longer than usual but today I am much better . . . I heard from Katie Barnes that their Leonard has been very dangerously wounded they are terribly anxious. But are not allowed to go to him. Poor things it is ghastly and cruel, and then you read of the ‘Peace Offensive’ articles in the New Statesman by men who seem to have no heart or imagination. I cannot understand it . . . You yourself said in a letter to Owen last time that [the Germans] had been driven back across the Aisne ‘We hope with great loss.’ Think what it means in agony and pain to the poor soldiers and agony and pain to the poor Mothers or Wives. It is useless to pretend it could not be prevented! We have never tried any other way . . . No other way but cruel war is left untried. I suppose that there will be a time when a more advanced human being will be evolved and we have learnt not to behave in this spirit individually towards each other. If we kept knives & pistols & clubs perhaps we should still use them. Yesterday Pat & I went blackberrying and then I went alone to Yarnton . . . the only ripe ones were up high so I valiantly mounted the hedges regardless of scratching as if I were 12 & I got nice ones. Then I went to the Food Control counter & at last got 5 lbs. of sugar . . . It was quite a victory we have to contend with this sort of sport & victory consists in contending with obstacles.

Gilbert to Owen, [9 February 1918]

I have been so glad to get your two letters of Dec. 7th & 18th and to hear of your success in passing the chemistry; and also that you got the extension of time & to know where you are . . . I am looking forward to your letters which I hope will make me realise how you are living. Well, my dear boy, I am thinking of you continually, and hoping for your happiness and welfare. I have some hope that your course may be longer than the 4 months. I fear now there is small chance of peace before there has been bitter fighting on the west front, and little chance of peace before you are on active service. I wonder what your feelings are. I don’t think I ever funked death for its own sake, though I do on other accounts, the missing a finish of my work, and the possible pain, and, very much more than these, the results to my wife & bairns. I don’t know whether at your age I should have felt that I was losing much in the enjoyment of life, not as much as I hope you do. I fear you will have to go into peril of wounds, disease and death, yet perhaps the greater chance is that you will escape all three actually; and, I hope, when you have come through, you will feel that you are not sorry to have played your part.

Second Lieutenant Owen Slater ready for service in France

Second Lieutenant Owen Slater ready for service in France. Photo courtesy of Margaret Bonfiglioli. Do not reproduce without permission.

Owen to Mrs Grafflin, [3 November 1918]

This is just a very short note to thank you for the knitted helmet that Mother sent me from you some time ago. It is very comfortable & most useful as I wear it under my tin hat, a shrapnel helmet which is very large for me & it makes it a beautiful fit.

We are now out at rest & have been out of the line for several days & have been having quite a good time though we have not had any football matches & the whole company is feeling rather cut up because our O.C. [Officer Commanding] has died of wounds. He was an excellent [word indecipherable] father to his men & officers.

Margaret Bonfiglioli was born in Oxford, where she also read English. Tutoring literature at many levels led to her involvement in innovative access courses, all while raising five children. In 2008 she began to re-discover the hoard of family letters that form the basis of Full of Hope and Fear. Her father, Owen Slater, is one of the central correspondents. After eleven years tutoring history in the University of Oxford, James Munson began researching and writing full-time. In 1985 he edited Echoes of the Great War, the diary of the First World War kept by the Revd. Andrew Clark. He also wrote some 50 historical documentaries for the BBC.

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2. Cheltenham Gold Cup


My horse lost at the Cheltenham Gold Cup yesterday. I had to sell grandma to pay the bookies.
ZenBrush on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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3. The Bread Library and Vastball


Two more pages from my Memoirs. They just keep coming.
Paper53 on iPad. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on The Bread Library and Vastball, last added: 3/12/2013
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4. The Thigh Concerto

Ah, the strains of Pfitzner's Third Thigh Concerto still bring a tear to my eye...
Paper53 on iPad. Click to enlarge.

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5. Illustration Friday: “Explore”

0 Comments on Illustration Friday: “Explore” as of 12/11/2012 5:07:00 PM
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6. Tiny Alien Mind Readers

Tiny alien mind reading probes as described by a Spanish child from dreams collected by Roger Omar.
Gouache A3 size. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on Tiny Alien Mind Readers, last added: 8/15/2012
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7. The Cessation of Thought

I'm seriously aiming at the Cessation of Thought.
Ink, gouache and watercolour. A4 size. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on The Cessation of Thought, last added: 6/27/2012
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8. Card no.7

The seventh card in the first series. More cards all at once here.
Woodcut 20cm x 30cm. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on Card no.7, last added: 5/10/2010
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9. 24 squares

24 squares....count 'em.
Gouache and ink. A3 size. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on 24 squares, last added: 5/31/2010
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10. Card 20

Card 20 in the current series.
Woodcut 20cm x 30cm. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on Card 20, last added: 6/21/2010
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11. Dog star

In space, no one can hear you bark.
Pen and ink with digital colour 16cm x 7cm. Click to enlarge.

6 Comments on Dog star, last added: 6/29/2010
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12. The Complex Moustache

Some illustrations for a story that will never be written:-
The Kayaking Unicyclist, The Coffee and/or Soup Submarines, The Mouth Nest, The Chief Backscratcher, The Dead Sheep Flying Machine and of course the Complex Moustache.
Pen and wash with digital colour. Click to enlarge.

4 Comments on The Complex Moustache, last added: 11/25/2010
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13. The Pumping Cock

Card 23 in the ongoing cartomancy series is now ready.
Woodcut 30cm x 20cm. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on The Pumping Cock, last added: 2/11/2011
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14. Friday's 15 minute sketch...


First Friday in May...A new 15 minute sketch. I'll be doing this every Friday... hopefully.

-MC

2 Comments on Friday's 15 minute sketch..., last added: 5/9/2011
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15. The Mecox Popesse

A fragment of the artwork from the game board of The Game of Spodunk showing the first two squares. It's very unlucky to land your goose on La Popesse.
Pen and ink on watercolour 28cm x 9cm. Click to enlarge.

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16. The Pencil Bomber

If cartoonists were generals we'd carpet bomb the enemy with 5B pencils.
Pencil on isometric paper 22cm x 19cm. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on The Pencil Bomber, last added: 11/3/2011
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17. Shortcut

Despite congestion charging, London roads are full.
Pencil on isometric paper. A5 size. Click to enlarge.

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18. Tower of Power

I've finished the 37th and final card in the first series of The Cards of U'ut 
The first print run is limited to 100 boxes, individually signed and numbered. If you want a deck of these cards you better get your skates on... I sold 5 sets today. I've designed a booklet to go in the box, but am still finalising the copy for it.
Woodcut 30cm x 20cm. Click to enlarge.

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19. The Robes of Wu

After this evening's rehearsal for Friday's 20x20 presentation at ASC Open Studios, I got the call that my Robes of Wu were ready for collection. The bespoke hat and gown were made to my specification by the redoubtable Zoë Cobb aided by the Gnomes of Dave. I could not be more delighted with the garments which will no doubt boost my clairvoyant powers. Click pic to enlarge.

3 Comments on The Robes of Wu, last added: 11/24/2011
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20. King no.43

King no.43 in action.
Pen and ink with watercolour, gouache, water-soluble crayon and digital colour. A3 size. Click to enlarge.

1 Comments on King no.43, last added: 2/21/2012
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21. Letter K

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22. Twins

Two guys on a horse. Probably based on this.
Acrylic on canvas board. 50cm x 60cm. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on Twins, last added: 12/3/2009
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23. Cloud Cuckooland

I'm a fully paid up member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
Pen and ink with watercolour 21cm x 15cm. Click to enlarge.

4 Comments on Cloud Cuckooland, last added: 12/15/2009
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24. Test Cut

A woodcut version of this. It's a test print using a new technique (for me) on Japanese wood and with new gouges.
Woodcut with digital colour. 20cm x 30cm. Click to enlarge.

2 Comments on Test Cut, last added: 1/6/2010
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25. Card backs

First attempt at the design for the backs of the Cards of Wu. See how it's done here.
Woodcut 20cm x 30cm. Click to enlarge.

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