“I became fascinated in incorporating portraits into my work 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.” says Helen, “I realised the devastation that was caused to his young wife and baby son (my Grandfather) when he was killed and how the only record of his life was a sepia photograph, a cigarette case and a carved memorial. While working in restoration studios following my degree I noticed that it was only prominent families that were able to commission portraits and that my family, like the majority, only have photographic records of our ancestor going back, at most, a hundred years. My aim is to create a series of portraits that commemorate the everyday man to the prominent position that they inhabited in the hearts of their loved ones.”
Helen Chester will be exhibiting these portraits over the course of the four years commemorations, please check the News page for details.
More recently Helen has worked with UK charity, Waterloo Uncovered in order to produce a series of portraits of the veterans, and those still serving in the Armed Forces, involved in their archaeological work at the site of the Battle of Waterloo. Through these portraits Helen seeks to tell the individual stories, illustrate the work of the charity and incorporate imagery from the historical battle.
Please click on each image for further information about each subject & press 'show more' button to see more work.
Founder of Forgotten Veterans UK.
Portrait of Carl, a Welsh veteran with PTSD. He was posted to Northern Ireland where he nearly lost his life.
Linden is a Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He experienced a colleague being blown up during a posting to Northern Ireland not long after joining the army. Linden is an amputee and works hard to promote the veteran welfare.
Kenneth was a rear gunner in a Lancaster Bombing during a path finder mission, when the plane went missing. It was only earlier this year that his body was recovered, along with the rest of the crew, and his family were informed that he was killed in action.
Portrait of Eric Wilson, recipient of the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. Picture in the Wilson family's private collection.
James Welling originally lived in Bridport, Dorset and when war started he enlisted with the Royal Horse Artillery. James survived the Great War and moved to Westbury when his daughter married the son of Herbert 'Fred' Kerley (see portrait). On moving he worked for Royal Mail collecting and delivering parcels on his horse and cart. James always kept horses.
Edgar Hicketts survived the First World War but suffered from the affects of Shell Shock for the rest of his life. Edgar was in and out of mental hospitals following the war and was seen as a figure of fun by local children because he used to shout at lamp posts and cower from imaginary shells.
Albert Ash came from Holt, Wiltshire and was one of two brothers that went to war with the Wiltshire Regiment. He was killed in the Somme. Private Commission.
Florence lost her husband at the start of the Great War and was left to bring up her baby son until she finally re-married. She told her daughter-in-laws, decades later that no one would ever replace her first love that never returned from the war.