Prized objects from the collections of National Galleries Scotland and Royal Armouries are helping tell the hidden story of the British in Russia at the end of the First World War.
Items including artefacts from the famous Fabergé workshop and imperial factories, will feature in our new special exhibition. The museum has received funding from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund to enable it to bring these objects to Yorkshire.
Instead of returning home at the end of the First World War, thousands of British soldiers, including 1300 Green Howards, (called The Yorkshire Regiment at that time) were deployed to northern Russia. They were part of a multi-national force tasked with turning the tide of revolution. The exhibition tells the hidden story of Britain’s involvement in the Russian Civil War.
Hostile Environment explores the complex positioning of ‘red’ versus ‘white’ at a time of enormous global social and political upheaval. It uses personal archives from the museum’s collection and loaned objects from a variety of regional and national lenders to assemble memories, personal possessions, objects, kit and equipment; one hundred years after ‘Operation Syren’ took place.
Alongside the museum’s own extensive collections, visitors can see:
• Fabergé Kvosh with original fitted case, chalcedony, gold and agate, made by Mikhail Perkhin, 1887-1896: National Museums Scotland. Traditionally a wooden drinking cup, elaborate versions were given as gifts by the Tsar (above)
• Cossack whip, plaited leather and wooden handle. Used against protestors in the St. Petersburg Riots, 1906: National Museums Scotland
• Easter egg, porcelain painted with blue-green and black enamel, gilt, made at the Imperial Factory in St Petersburg, 1894-1917: National Museums Scotland
• Mosin rifle model 1891, c1917, captured at Mudjugsky Island, near Archangel: Royal Armouries
The loans are supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.
“This is a fabulous opportunity for people to find out what happened to soldiers after the Armistice of November 1918,” says Museum Director, Lynda Powell. “Far from putting down their guns and going home, many were deployed to fight in the Russian Civil War. As it turned out, they ended up on the losing side; which may help explain why this period of history is not quite so well-known within the wider context of the First World War. Luckily we have several personal collections, including some incredibly forthright diaries, in our archive, which have enabled us to give an intimate take on the civil war, which was, in fact, a global conflict. One hundred years after those soldiers were on the ground in Russia, we’re able to tell their story. The objects we have on loan are vital in helping us present this special exhibition, which we believe will certainly offer some surprises for visitors.”
Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are delighted that these incredibly important works of craftsmanship and history are coming to Yorkshire as part of our loan programme. When we started the Weston Loan Programme we hoped it would help bring national treasures to many different communities across the UK and we are thrilled that museum visitors will get to enjoy these pieces.”
Garfield Weston Foundation
Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK with grants around £70million annually. It has donated over £1billion to charities since it was established.
One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown, so too have the charitable donations.
From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. More than 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant giving, Art Fund’s support to museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by Tate St Ives in 2018) and a range of digital platforms.
Hostile Environment: The British in Russia 1918-1920 is supported by: