Criss cross. A photograph of Spanish Republican refugees taken during the Retirada in 1939. I am moved to consider this journey of flight as the marching of footsteps in the opposite direction to the journey taken by the young British artist Felicia Browne, who died in combat in Spain in 1936. finding herself in Spain at the outbreak of war she volunteered for action. (Photographer not known to me – if anyone does know please do leave a message in the comments section.)
Thank you for finding your way to this new blog.
My name is Sonia Boué and I am a visual multi-form artist working with a personal history rooted in the Spanish Civil War, and informed by the life long exile of my father in England. You can see a lot of my work in online spaces especially my website and my blog with a-n blogs.
Blogging is an integral part of my process and online work is incredibly important to me, which means that you are too. I’m keen to reach audiences with this marginalised history of Spanish exile and the lesser known elements of the Anglo-Spanish experience in the face of this conflict.
SO when considering a new project, a new blog in a new space seemed a perfect way to start.
My work this time will focus on the British artist Felicia Browne. Felicia is a little known figure in wider circles. Her story is remarkable because she was the first and only female British combatant in the Spanish Civil War and among the first British fatalities in this conflict. To some, she is a heroine, to others a tragically impulsive naïf.
The exact circumstances of her death near Tardienta in Aragon are not fully known, although there remains an eye witness account by George Brinkmann who was part of her fateful mission. From this we learn that she was killed in action while trying to aid an injured comrade under enemy fire.
“Her story has all the ingredients essential to heroic legend, the willing sacrifice of her life to save that of a comrade.” Angela Jackson, British Women and the Spanish Civil War (2002)
In this blog I will be exploring her death in Spain as a fellow artist, in collaboration with poet and daughter of a Republican exile to England Jenny Rivarola.
We are very fortunate to have Professor Tom Buchanan of the University of Oxford History Faculty and the lead authority on Felicia Browne working with us, and we hope at the end of our research and development phase to have a really interesting creative collaboration to share with the public.
My working title for the project is taken from Tom’s chapter on The Lost Art of Felicia Browne in his book, The Impact of the Spanish Civil War on Britain: War, Loss and Memory, Sussex University Press, 2007.
This blog will share research and progress and I hope you’ll keep us company along the way.