The Blitz Exhibition was an innovative exhibition about the destruction by the Luftwaffe of the small industrial town of Clydebank on 13 and 14 March 1941.
McKendrick was born and grew up in post war Clydebank. The visions of gaunt gables, charred walls and bomb craters had a powerful effect on his life and work.
He shared the collective memory of the community and was aware from early in childhood of the horrors that had taken place around him.
The Blitz exhibition was shown in the Lillie Art Gallery Milngavie, Edinburgh and
In all the exhibition was visited by over 60,000 people
Illustrated below are examples of paintings from the exhibition which took place in the Lillie Gallery in 1985. Images can be mouse-clicked to enlarge and the
gallery can be navigated by placing your mouse over these images.
Information about The Blitz Exhibition
exhibition was criticised by some of the art establishment for its mixed content, artifacts, bombs, paintings, photographs, historical and technical information,
a soundtrack of witness accounts....
McKendrick dismissed these views as
I have made detailed illustrations of bombs and mines to illustrate the thought
put into the technology of destruction...
artifacts rescued from buildings....
a child's toy train, scorched on one side by blast, a purse with a small
fragment of curtain material and a caption
which read..".this is all I have left of my mother,
picked up in the street, she disappeared when a parachute mine
hit our home".... All these things are
and should be treated as such. They are real
of a real story ...'found objects' that deserve a place in any gallery".
Along one side of the gallery were the personal details of the 528 victims, including the unclaimed dead. The eldest 88 years of age, the youngest a few months old.
An illuminated bomb map showing where bombs landed and
sat in the centre of the gallery, adjacent to a 250kg bomb. Large paintings
with references to their origin ( The Blitz witness accounts) hung on the walls. All were
using carefully designed lighting to create a cohesive
Information about 'Sheets' paintings
I knew that eventually I would have to confront the portrayal of death and injury. It is a sensitive area and it would have been offensive to the memories of many to create
of broken and mutilated people. Because of this I have chosen 'sheets' as my symbols of destruction. Often they were the only recognisable remains of homes.
they survived the ferocity of blast; their tattered remnants hanging from the trees and buildings....In horrific circumstances they were shredded to bind
injured and dying, and to hide horrendous mutilation. Beneath them in neat rows, the dead were laid out for identification..... the remains of the
in them......they are remnants of death and wounding... Stained, burned, severed and blackened, they are 'witnesses'.
Information about 'Gable' paintings
'Wallblast' is a painting from the 'gable' series... a dark painting, gaunt and bleached, depicting the aftermath of a bomb blast. The painting is bordered in black, silhouetting the
stark and desolate image,
which hints at a once stable structure violated by powerful forces. The surface of the work is deeply scarred and pitted. Charred by intense heat,
the work serves as a
witness to a violent and catastrophic event.
Information about 'Blitz' Landscapes
The artist in order to covey the reality and horror of the event viewed it through the eyes of witnesses...one from across the river looking North in ' Burning Town'
and another through the eyes of his mother (Terraces) described to him as she returned to the town early in the raid in an attempt to find her family
.... finding the entire street ablaze. They are visions of despair terror that were shared by so many.
Information about 'Ariel' Paintings
As part of his research McKendrick interviewed Luftwaffe and British air crew who engaged in nighttime raids. The glaring and stark blazing images
created in 'Map' and 'The Burning' are a result of these interviews. In a quote from a pilot...."Viewed from high above a burning town or city looks like a molten cauldron...
there are human beings in its heart...something you cannot think about."