Grace (Bendith): The Suffering of Women in a Time of War

‘Grace (Bendith): The Suffering of Women in a Time of War’ (2003)
Oil and acrylic 112x91cm

The following explanatory note was written by the artist when giving permission for the use of this image to San Antonio University, Texas. “Women and War” Literature Brochure 2004. The image was also used as poster design for ‘War Music’, Christopher Logue’s adaptation of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ [London 2005]. In late summer 2017 the painting was shown in the WCIA exhibition ‘Women, War and Peace’ at the Senedd (Welsh National Assembly) Cardiff.

“I started this painting ‘The Suffering of Women in a Time of War’ in Warsaw, Poland, on the day of the big anti-war rally in London in February 2003. I was unable to be there but my daughter went. It is my personal response to the situation of helplessness faced by women at such a time.

It has been in exhibitions and responses have described it as powerful and intense – some people find it too disturbing to look at for long.

It is based on my own life, my mother’s experiences and my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother, Grace Ann Jones, had nine sons and one daughter who all went off to war from Porthmadog in September 1939. She died a few weeks later in October. I’m sure she died of a broken heart.

I have tried to represent women of all races, creeds, and ages. Daughters waiting for their fathers return, wives and lovers waiting for their men, mothers for their sons. It is also a self-portrait. My father was in the Royal Navy and was killed in the Second World War. My husband’s mother was in Auschwitz and his father was imprisoned in Siberia by the Russians. They both survived. He became a pilot with the Polish RAF in Britain. We have, as a family, been deeply affected by wars.

This painting came from within. She started off representing Welsh women and ended up representing women of all the world.”

Annie, beside her painting ‘Grace (Bendith): The Suffering of Women in a Time of War’ (2003) Oil and acrylic 112x91cm.
Photo: Lee Karen Stow

Annie featured in a short radio piece about the exhibition:

About the Exhibition

Sponsored by Ann Jones, Deputy Presiding Offices of the National Assembly for Wales, the exhibition explored the impact of war on the lives of women across the world, and told the story of women who have striven for peace. It included photography from the world-renowned photo journalist, Lee Karen Stow, as well as a look at the story of women from Wales’ past who responded to the horror of the First World War and beyond.

In the 100 years since the first world war, how have women felt the impact of war, and contributed to the search for peace? This was the question that the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) Canolfan Materion Rhyngwladol Cymru explored in the exhibition: ‘Women, War and Peace’ which was on display at the Senedd (Welsh National Assembly) in Cardiff in 2017.