Period: The war years

Reception desk at Gowrie House, EastbourneReception desk at Gowrie House, Eastbourne
painted in London, 1945
oil on canvas (linen) 76 x 91.4 cm
signed l.l., oil “STELLA BOWEN”, not dated
Australian War Memorial
acquired under official war art scheme, 1945
ART26270

Upon arrival at the Australian prisoner of war repatriation centre at Eastbourne, the men were provided with a meal and accommodation. After settling in, they were allowed to send a free cable home and were presented with a Red Cross parcel. The men were presented with new uniforms and pay advances and then given 14 days leave and rail passes to explore Britain. Upon their return, they awaited embarkation to Australia.

In this painting, Stella Bowen has captured a friendly gathering of ex-prisoners of war with British Red Cross workers, the group framed by the warmth of a desk lamp and watched over benevolently by portraits of Winston Churchill and John Curtin.