This painting is entitled “Composite of Beach Defences I” and was painted by Brian Chugg from sketches made just after the Second World War.
Brian Chugg (1926-2003) was born and lived in Braunton, North Devon. He studied at Bideford School of Art 1946-9 then Camberwell School of Art 1949-50. Brian lectured in art at North Devon College from 1953 to 1979, teaching a whole generation of North Devonians. On retirement he became a freelance author and artist.
As a boy growing up in Braunton during the war, Brian was fascinated by the defences appearing around his home village. The remains left behind by the US Assault Training Center, which took over much of the North Devon coast to practise for the D-Day landings were a source of inspiration for his work.
“When the training areas eventually fell silent, they still contained many unexploded missiles and were ‘out of bounds’. Ominously, a civilian life was lost in the Saunton minefields, the plans of which, it was rumoured, were mislaid. I was aware of the poetry of the wasteland. The wind-rifted sand revealed some objects and concealed others. Following vehicle tracks for safety’s sake wherever possible, I discovered new textures and linear rhythms amidst desert-like solitudes. These were strong visual images with a timely significance.”
Brian came to think of this his works at this time under the collective title “Aftermath of War”. Some were exhibited at the Taw & Torridge Festival in 1953, and then drawn together for an exhibition at the museum in 1994.