‘Beyond the Battlefields’ at University of Birmingham and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

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University of Birmingham Research and Cultural Collections and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery are showing exhibitions focusing on the work of amateur photographer Käthe Buchler. The exhibitions have been organised by The Voices of War & Peace WW1 Engagement Centre and the photos are from the collection of the Museum of Photography in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony.

Buchler was a bourgeois woman, who was given a camera as a gift by her husband. She began taking photographs and continued to do so during the First World War capturing life on the German home front. This moving collection of photos explores the lives of wounded soldiers, children and Germans supporting the war effort. Particularly touching are photos of children collecting recycling and nurses and soldiers celebrating Christmas at a hospital. The photos convey a heartwarming sense of compassion and intimacy during a time of immense suffering and turmoil.

The exhibition at University of Birmingham is in the Rotunda gallery in Aston Webb and displays Buchler’s works alongside displays showing the role that University of Birmingham played in the First World War. Many buildings on campus were used as hospital wards and over 125,000 men were treated there over a four year period. Photos show nurses who worked there and soldiers recuperating in the grounds. Also on display is an embroidered cloth which soldiers presented to Matron Kathleen Lloyd to show their gratitude towards her, as well as a plaque commemorating some of the University of Birmingham students who lost their lives during the war.

Visitors viewing works on display at the exhibition launch in the Rotunda Gallery.
The Great Hall in Aston Webb used as a hospital ward during WWI.

Part of the exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery focused on other women who depicted World War One through photography such as Christina Broom, self-proclaimed ‘Official Photographer to the Guards’, who also famously photographed the suffragettes. It also examined the lives of children during the war, displaying Buchler’s photos of children being awarded rabbits for their recycling collection.

The exhibition in the second floor corridor at BMAG.
Christina Bloom presenting examples of her work at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, London, 1916.

A programme of enrichment events has been organised to accompany these exhibitions:

Saturday 4 November 2017, 1-4pm – Project planning workshop around women, war & photography in the Library of Birmingham Wolfson Research Centre.

Saturday 18 November 2017, 11am-5pm – Women & photography symposium in the Library of Birmingham Heritage Learning Space.

Thursday 30 November 2017, 5.30-7pm – Project planning workshop around WW1, medicine/injuries & photography in the Cadbury Research Library Seminar Room, University of Birmingham.

Saturday 9 December 2017, 10.30am-4pm – Birmingham WW1 soldiers/treatment/trauma symposium in the Cadbury Research Library Seminar Room, University of Birmingham.


Both exhibitions are open until 14th January 2018.

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