George P. Lewis

Women Ropeworkers in an Unidentified Factory, Probably in Dundee (About 1918 (printed 2004))

About this artwork

In 1918, the Women’s Work committee for the Imperial War Museum commissioned a specific series of photographs from Lewis on the women who had worked in the heavy industries and transport during the war. The intention was to offer a positive, heroic view of the women’s labours – equivalent to the men’s fighting spirit and endurance. The pictures were designed more for posterity than for propaganda, and Lewis’s photographs present the women as positive and engaging personalities. While the pictures are not evidently political, they are taken against a background of the industrial militancy, in response to the privations of war and the Russian Revolution of 1917, which focused in Scotland on ‘Red Clydeside’.

George P. Lewis

George P. Lewis

Little is known about Lewis before he went to work in Indonesia for the Armenian firm, Onnes Kurkdjian, in 1896. His work there was divided between fine, industrial and topographic photography. He returned to Britain in 1917 during the height of the Great War. Although too old for active service, Lewis was keen to assist in the war effort and was assigned to photograph activity on the Home Front. It is for the some 1,300 photographs he took in the following eighteen months that he is most remembered. Lewis was one of only sixteen official British photographers who documented the war, which was the first major conflict to have contemporary photographic iconography.