Period: The war years

Remains of a flying bombRemains of a flying bomb
painted in London, 1944
watercolour with pencil on cardboard 51.8 x 64.7 cm
inscribed l.r., pencil “Remains of a Fly-bomb/October 1944/Stella Bowen”
Australian War Memorial
acquired under official war art scheme, 1945
ART26267

This twisted metal shell in this painting resembles a mutilated human torso. The painting recalls the ruined shells of houses in earlier works, as well as being a graphic illustration in its own right of that sense of vulnerability that Bowen saw all around her during the bombing. The use of watercolour underscores the fragility of life, but the delicate blades of grass around the bomb are a sign of regeneration.

The deliberate use of the word “remains” in the title is an ironic comment on our ability to create weapons that are then used to destroy life.