In May this year, Road to Recovery: Disabled Soldiers of World War I closed, after its ten-month-long display at Te Papa. This exhibition, which explored how New Zealand soldiers disabled by World War I were supported to regain their economic independence, included 8 sepia photographs of limbless soldiers demonstrating new work skills they were taught while recovering in hospital. Here’s one of the images that was in the exhibition:
While the exhibition is now closed, these 8 images, and 20 others like them held by Te Papa, are accessible digitally on Te Papa’s Collections Online. Plus, a specially curated slide show of 10 has just been added to the Te Papa Channel. The slide show concentrates on three men whose photos were probably taken as case studies of ‘successful’ job retraining.
The history of the prints is still a mystery, even though I have been researching them, on-and-off, for the last seven years. I am certain that eventually I will verify an archival lead I have – that the photographs were exhibited in London in May 1918 at the ‘Inter-Allied Conference on the After-care of Disabled Soldiers’ (see above). In the mean time, any information to help me with my detective work would be gratefully received.
Read other blogs I have posted on Te Papa’s blog about these photographs:
- Limbless, but not jobless or hopeless
- William Gemmell: WWI amputee positively identified
- Inspiring disabled designs
- End of the road