AS Glasgow prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the city’s own war artist is featured in a powerful new exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

Fred Farrell was born in 1882 in Cowcaddens. His father, John, was a school board officer and later curator at the Trades House.

Fred was a self-taught etcher and watercolourist, specialising in portraits and topographical subjects.

Discharged from active service in November 1916 due to ill health, he was then attached as a war artist to the Highland Light Infantry and the 51st (Highland) Division.

He made two trips to the frontline, to Flanders in northern Belgium in 1917, and to France in 1918.

In between, authorised by the Minister of Munitions and Admiralty, and supported by Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sir Thomas Dunlop, Farrell drew the heroic home effort of women in Glasgow’s munitions factories and engineering works.

His work is now being shown as part of Brushes with War: Art from the Front Line, at Kelvingrove.

This exhibition, which runs until January 6, features 219 original paintings and drawings by the troops who served in World War One.

Dr Neil Ballantyne, manager of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, explains: “Previous Glasgow Museums’ research has brought to light details of the extraordinary commission Fred Farrell received from the Corporation of Glasgow to produce 50 drawings depicting life for the Scottish regiments on the Western Front and for those working in the armament factories at home.

“Glasgow was one of the first cities to recognise the importance of creating such a memorial rather than only producing images for propaganda purposes.

“Farrell was the only war artist to be commissioned by a city rather than by the government and unusual in that he was both a serving soldier and a war artist.”

Dr Ballantyne adds: “When planning Brushes with War it was incredibly important we included a Glasgow angle within this truly international exhibition. Farrell’s work portrays the reality of the situation encountered by those fighting for our country. His haunting battlefield scenes contrast with other more sanitised images of life in the trenches depicting soldiers relaxing or celebrating their achievements.”

One of the most touching of the nine Farrell works on is Hung Up! as Dr Ballantyne explains.

“It’s a disturbing image of a dead solider caught on barbed wire, his gun and helmet on the ground in front of him,” he says. “It’s a remarkable work by a Glasgow artist showing those who remained at home the stark truth of combat and how awful it really was. I don’t think it has lost any of its power in the 100 years since World War One ended.”

Dr Joanna Meacock, Curator (British Art) at Glasgow Museums said: “As a former soldier, Farrell’s sketches and watercolours powerfully offer a landscape filtered and mediated through personal experience and emotion.

“Battle scenes and strategic deliberations are reconstructed, informed by first-hand accounts. Many include portraits of actual soldiers. There are poignant images of graves, devastated landscapes and destroyed churches. However, there are also scenes of reconstruction and renewed activity amid the desolation.”

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander says: “This striking exhibition offers clear glimpses into World War I through the eyes of the people who actually fought, were wounded and even taken prisoner. The collection as a whole is exceptional and offers a remarkable insight into the lives of those who gave so much to ensure our freedom.

“It is a fitting culmination to a four year programme of events across Glasgow.”

Brushes of War tickets cost £7 per adult and £5 per concession, children under 16 free. For more information visit