At the Churchill Club, large and small worlds

Unit Royal Australian Air Force
Accession Number ART26269
Collection type Art
Measurement framed: 84.5 cm x 74.6 cm x 6.6 cm; unframed: 61.2 x 50.8 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on plywood
Maker Bowen, Stella
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Portrait of Flying Officer Maurice O'Sullivan, RAAF, with a large terrestrial globe, in a room overlooking part of an enclosed garden of the Churchill Club, London. The Churchill Club was established as a cultural centre for officers of the American Forces during the Second World War. It was located in Ashburnham House, one of the evacuated buildings in Westminster School, London. Bowen's love of painting interiors was called upon during her official war art commission. But these were now public rather than domestic scenes. The Churchill Club was one of dozens of clubs in London where servicemen and women could spend their recreation leave. Here they could have a cup of tea, write a letter home, and get a meal or a bed for the night. Bowen visited these clubs to record the activities of Australian airmen and ex-prisoners of war. Bowen shows us an officer in a quiet moment, perhaps tracing the course of the war on the globe, or perhaps, like her, just thinking of home. A glimpse through to the garden suggests the universal need for a peaceful home, as much as for a peaceful world. In reality, these two worlds compete for our attention, but the painting shows them as they truly are, inseparable.