One Man's War: George Bain in the Balkans 1917-18










Groam House Museum is responsible for the George Bain Collection - a nationally significant Recognised Collection of arts and crafts. Much of the collection reflects his studies and teaching of Celtic design. But this exhibition focuses on the less well-known paintings and drawings that he produced during the First World War. They give us a personal view of life on the Balkan Front.

George Bain was 33 years old when war was declared in 1914. He had been an illustrator and art teacher so was called up as a draughtsman in the Royal Engineers. In 1917 he was posted to join the British Salonika Force in Macedonia and Bulgaria.

His war-work probably focused on drawing maps of the enemy lines, but he was also tasked with making stage sets and and costumes for the army theatre. Bain's designs were used for productions of Robinson Crusoe and Delightful in the military's Gaiety Theatre in the Balkans. Some of his lively sketches for these productions are on display. They show how much could be achieved in a giant tent not far from the front line.













Throughout his life George Bain painted landscapes and drew people. The exhibited pieces provide a glimpse of these aspects of his art. Sensitive works record the places he visited and locals he met while he was posted to this region. During this period he also drew cartoons that poked fun at army life. The images on view reflect an ordinary soldier's perspective on the day-to-day, in contrast to official accounts of the Balkan Front.

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