Object of the Moment: Pieces of Peace Blog part 2
People and Protest during the First World War
The First World War was one of the most violent episodes of the twentieth century. Many people refused to take up arms and fight, and these were known as conscientious objectors. They refused to take up arms for many different reasons. Some did it out of religious and humanitarian conviction, others out of politics. The stories of some of these conscientious objectors are told in the objects in the museum today.
‘The Conchie’ is a painting by Arthur W. Gay which tells the story of a conscientious objector on his way to prison, escorted by two soldiers. Art is a powerful way of telling stories and asking questions, and there may be clues in the painting as to why he chose to object to the war. Why do you think he refused to fight?
The Prisoner of Conscience sculptures encourage and invite you to think about what it might be like to be imprisoned for your beliefs. They were created by Malcolm Brocklesby, whose uncle was a conscientious objector during the First World War and imprisoned in Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire, along with 16 other men.
Many women also protested the war. Another story is told by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Blocks, which are printing blocks made from wood and copper which show pictures from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILFP) 1919 conference in Zurich. In 1915 a wide variety of women from different backgrounds gathered together at an International Congress in The Hague to oppose the war and call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. They also raised issues of equality and rights for women. Their efforts were fruitless, as the war would roll on for another three years.
Written by Catherine Warr (Museum Volunteer)