Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil WarConscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War

Helping them to Forget: Spanish Refugees and Prisoners

Following the bombing of Guernica and other Basque cities in May 1937 the steam ship Habaña arrived at Southampton carrying 4000 Basque children and their teachers who were housed in tents in a refugee camp at North Stoneham in Hampshire. The lives of these children were memorably recorded in the photographs of Edith Tudor-Hart, a pioneer in British documentary photography. Groups of the Basque children were accommodated in hostels across the South of England including at Worthing, Hove and Lord Faringdon's home at Buscot Park in Oxfordshire. Over 400 remained in Britain after the war ended and stayed permanently.

After the victory of the Nationalists in April 1939, over 500,000 Spanish refugees fled over the border into France and were interned in camps. These inspired moving paintings of refugees by the child prodigy Ursula McCannell who had visited Spain in the months before the war broke out in 1936. Seeking to raise funds for the refugees and prisoners Henry Moore produced a screenprint called ‘Spanish Prisoner’. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the print was never editioned or sold. However its imagery had a clear impact on his later work as one of the leading Official War Artists in the wider European conflict.