Attic art depicts life on the front line

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Drawings and memorabilia sent home from the First World War trenches by an acclaimed artist have been uncovered in the attic of an East Renfrewshire health worker.

Claire McCririck, who coordinates smoking cessation support at Barrhead Health and Care Centre, has revealed that painter and etcher Joseph Gray served on the front line with Charles McCririck, her husband’s late 
grandfather.

A selection of evocative wartime works by Gray — later an illustrator for the Dundee Courier — now hang in the Imperial War Museum.

Claire will unveil the family’s own battlefield scenes and a personal letter to the East Renfrewshire public as part of this year’s Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (MHAAFF) programme, running October 1-19.

She explained: “The scenes that were stored in our loft are real life situations the men found themselves in before they were lucky enough to return home — albeit 
injured.

“Whilst serving, Joseph Gray sent a letter and a drawing to my husband’s grandmother, letting her know they were both well and enjoying leisure time fishing and reading.

“However, as clearly depicted in the drawings, we know in reality that the opposite was true.”

Claire added: “When Charles came home, he remained friends with Joseph Gray and the drawings from the front line were given to him because he was depicted in many of them.

“When my husband’s grandparents passed, the letters and drawings were handed down to my husband and put in the loft for safe keeping.”

The artefacts will be on display at a World War One commemoration event, held at Arthurlie House on October 3, 1-4pm.

The event, organised by ACUMEN and East Ren’s health improvement team, will also include poetry and stories inspired byWW1, an open mic session and a chance to trace your own family’s history.

Entry to the event is free, and all are welcome to 
attend.