Today and tomorrow, Bradford College are hosting the WAR conference, which will explore representations of people, cultures and landscapes touched, intertwined and transformed by war from 1914 to the present day.
Pam Brook, lecturer at Bradford College, will be looking at representations of women in Britain and France during the Second World War. She says:
I intend to examine themes of the representation of femininity. Many of the [paintings and photographs of women] were of a ‘heroic’ nature showing women engaged in war work and often in non-traditional roles such as munitions, farm work and transport. They were often shown in uniform or in garments that were not typically associated with feminine dress but yet project an idealised concept of womanhood.
We have a series of portraits of women in the armed forces in our collection, photographed by J.C.A. Redhead.
John Cyril Alfred Redhead (1886–1954) was born in London but emigrated to America as a young man. By 1911 he was the manager of a portrait studio at Niagara Falls but returned to Britain later that year to take up a job with Kodak Limited. After the First World War he became manager of the Kodak photo-finishing department at Harrow.
As well as his managerial responsibilities, Redhead continued to take portraits. During the Second World War, Redhead’s senior position at Kodak gave him privileged access to scarce supplies of Kodachrome colour film imported from America. He used this to photograph many celebrities and senior military figures of the time, as well as ordinary men and women serving in the armed forces.