ARDIZZONE, Edward (artist). Shelter Scene.
An original lithograph with colour, commercially printed on wartime glaze paper, entitled Shelter Scene, reproduced from a watercolour, depicting wartime Londoners sheltering from the Blitz beneath Tilbury railway arches in Stepney, 1941. 710 x 1010 mm
Edward Ardizzone was made an official War Artist in February 1940. The appointment was a surprise to him, as he had not applied for the job, but he was delighted to be given the opportunity to record on paper what he saw and felt, instead of being "a rather inefficient officer in the mud of a gun-site in South London". The War Artist scheme, similar to that operated during World War 1, was suggested by Sir Kenneth Clark, then Director of the National Gallery. Under his chairmanship, the War Artists' Committee aimed to create a visual record of all aspects of the British war effort, and some of Britain's most promising artists were employed, and produced important work. During the Blitz the Director General of the Ministry of Information suggested that Ardizzone might concentrate on air raid subjects, and for this purpose he was temporarily transferred from the War Office to the Home Guard. Much of Ardizzone's later work as a War Artist was done on foreign postings (Edward Ardizzone, The Diary of a War Artist).
The underground shelter "The Tilbury" became the largest and most notorious of all the air raid shelters in the Second World War, housing as many as 16,000 people on occasions. The conditions there fuelled calls for a general improvement in public shelters during the early stages of the Blitz. The watercolour for this poster is Ardizzone's largest wartime painting and is housed at the Imperial War Museum.