2020 Objects of Peace: The Conchie
The Peace Museum has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help build The Peace Museum of the Future. As part of the campaign 20 ambassadors have chosen an object from our collection to talk about its importance in the history of peace and why it is significant to them.
Chris Clayton from the Working Class Movement Library has chosen The Conchie Painting by Arthur William Gay (1901–1958).
“This painting, called The Conchie, was painted in 1931 by Arthur W Gay. It shows a conscientious objector sitting on a train reading his bible, faced by an armed military escort. As there was no conscription in 1931, this picture must refer back to the First World War, 1914-1918. Conscription was first introduced in January 1916 and was ended in 1920. It was not reintroduced until April 1939, when war with Germany was anticipated. But between 1916 and 1919 almost 20,000 men were incarcerated because they refused to kill. Some refused because of their religious beliefs, others because of their socialist beliefs. Many were treated abominably by their jailers, and some died because of the poor conditions in which they were kept. These men were admired and supported by many people, although reviled by the majority of the population. Gay lived and worked in Bristol which had an active anti-war community, with 427 known conscientious objectors.”
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