Artist to put First World War heroes in frame

This Is Wiltshire: Westbury artist Helen Chester Westbury artist Helen Chester

Westbury artist Helen Chester has appealed for families to send her their photographs of family members who fought in the First World War so she can paint their portraits.

The 39-year-old mother of two who lives with husband Phil, 39 and children Arthur, seven, and Jasper, three, in Ludlow Close, said: “I became fascinated after finding a photograph of my great grandfather and seeing his memorial in the tower of All Saints Church in Westbury, where he was a bell ringer.”

His name was Herbert Frederick Kerley, and he died on August 26, 1914 at the battle of Mons.

Mrs Chester said: “I realised the devastation that was caused to his young wife and baby son when he was killed and how the only record of his life was a photograph, a cigarette case and a carving on a wall.

“It was only wealthy and prominent families who were able to commission portraits. My aim is to commemorate the everyday man that inhabited the hearts of their loved ones.”

Mrs Chester has studied Fine Art at Cardiff University and currently works part-time as an artist from her studio in the back garden and part-time for a gift ware company. She hopes to be able to be able to devote all her time to art at some point in the future.

She hopes to paint 10 local men, in paintings which she hopes will incorporate local scenes relevant to their life. Once she completes the paintings she will exhibit them locally.

Mrs Chester exhibited work in the Wiltshire Heritage White Horse and Hill Figures exhibition a number of years ago, and has exhibited in the Cardiff Bay Arts Trust collection.

If you have a photograph and are interested in taking part, contact Mrs Chester on 01373 825041 or email helenchesterarts@hotmail.co.uk

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