Photo: L to R, back row: Percy Clark (read by Edward Anderson), Ruby Clark (Emma Laird Craig), Lilian Clark (Freya Alderson), Colville Clark (Gareth Balai), Cosmo Clark (Jamie White), James Clark (Andrew Maud) plus Raphy, Fran, Annie and Marina Rhys; front row: Elizabeth Clark (Christina Balmer), Ellen Clark (Lauren Jones), Rebekah Rhys.
Family members of the Bedford Park artists James and Cosmo Clark have described how moved they were by the reading of Cosmo’s War at St Michael & All Angels Church on Remembrance Day. Cosmo’s granddaughter Fran Rhys said: “It was very moving to be there and it was a most professional and polished production – very many congratulations”. Her sister Annie said “What an amazing evening – thank you to all who made it possible.”
Mark Izatt, a trustee of the veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, wrote on Twitter: “It was a superb performance. I had read the letters before but this gave them a whole new meaning”.
No fewer than six of James Clark’s great granddaughters attended the performance and Cosmo’s granddaughters and great-granddaughters were photographed with the cast afterwards (above, with the original family photo in black and white). More of Jim Cox’s production photographs can be seen in this Flickr album.
Cosmo’s War was written by Bernard Adams, a former BBC producer, based on Cosmo Clark’s letters, to and from his family at 44 Rusthall Avenue W4. Copies of the play are now on sale via Amazon here.
Cosmo volunteered for active service at the age of 17 and won the Military Cross. He documented his experiences in drawings and letters from the front and later became a well-known artist. His father James Clark painted The Great Sacrifice, described as “the most popular painting of WW1”, and The Salutation mural in the north aisle of St Michael & All Angels Church (seen in the photograph below).
The production, in a packed St Michael’s church (see below), was enhanced by music, costumes and images, including many of Cosmo’s sketches and letters. The part of Cosmo was read by Jamie White, a history student from Chiswick, and other parts were read by professional actors. The narrator was the vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Fr Kevin Morris.
There was a collection afterwards for Combat Stress (you can also donate here online). The evening was supported by Andrew Nunn & Associates (click to watch their Chiswick video!), Belinda Norcliffe Casting and Home Instead, Chiswick and Hammersmith. The uniforms were supplied by Khaki Devil of Bury St Edmunds, the other costumes by Janet & John Huckle, and props by Stuart Learmonth, Cosprop, Trading Post, Abbey Fabrics and Superhire Props.
Ealing Civic Society is considering awarding a green plaque in the names of Cosmo and James Clark at 44 Rusthall Avenue W4 1BP.