DAY 15
Charlotte Mackenzie

Change some plates

100 days
100 lives
100 words

On the road to Ypres,
We’ve passed poor remnants of humanity alongside little wooden crosses.
Still, I am pleased that a woman should get such a chance.

“I wanted to choose a woman that was working in London, in their early thirties (like me) during the time of the war – and preferably someone who was working as part of a creative industry.”

Charlotte Mackenzie, Author.

Creating the Centena

I wasn’t sure where to start when it came to preparing my First World War centena, as part of the 26 Armistice project. Initially I wanted to choose a woman that was working in London, in their early thirties (like me) during the time of the war – and preferably someone who was working as part of a creative industry. I was fortunate enough to attend the fantastic Womens Work 100 Research Workshops, held at the Imperial War Museum on a bitterly cold and snowy day in March. During the workshop, I was able to spend time with fellow 26 members and staff from the museum archives, who gave us a whistle-stop tour through women’s roles in the First World War. I then settled on Olive Edis, a female photographer who was appointed official war artist and photographed British Women’s Services for the museum between 1918 and 1919.

I found Olive to be an inspirational, at times cheeky, and incredibly brave woman.
Charlotte Mackenzie.

My research led me to the Norfolk Museum’s Service, and a very fruitful phone call with curator Alistair Murphy from the Cromer Museum, home to around 2,000 images from Edis’ studios in Sheringham, Cromer, Farnham and London. The museum ran a major exhibition between 2016 and 2017, celebrating the life of Britain’s first female war photographer, and a fascinating blog created by Liz Elmore. It was thanks to a fruitful phone call with Alistair and the use of the blog, that Olive truly came to life for me. Partly as I was able to read and engage with extracts of her diary, kept during the trip on the road to Ypres. This fascinating account was truly the inspiration for my piece.

I found Olive to be an inspirational, at times cheeky, and incredibly brave woman. She would have been slightly older than me while on the front line, but I didn’t feel that was an issue in the grand scheme of things. Rather, her works have paved the way for creatives in London, Norfolk and beyond. I have enjoyed bringing Olive back to life.

Olive Edis, by Mary Olive Edis © Norfolk Museums Service.

Lives of the First World War

You can find out more about Mary Olive Edis-Galsworthy here at Lives of the First World War.

About the Author

Charlotte Mackenzie.

More About Charlotte Mackenzie.

With Special Thanks

This centena was created with the support of IWM and curator Alistair Murphy from the Cromer Museum, Norfolk Museums Service

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About 26

26 is a group of writers whose purpose is to inspire a greater love of words in business and in life.