Felicia Browne was born in Thames Ditton Kingston on 18th February 1904. She studied at the St John’s Wood School of Art and the Slade Art School, where she studied with Henry Tonks, William Coldstream, Nan Youngman and Claude Rogers.
In 1928 Felicia Browne went to Berlin, Germany to study metalwork at Charlottenburg Technische Stadtschule, then became an apprentice to a stone mason from 1929-1931. Youngman said, “Felicia was much more aware of the political situation than any of us. In 1928 she went to Berlin to study sculpture, living with unemployed fellow artists. Witnessing the Nazis come to power led her to the Communist party, which she joined in 1933.” While in Germany she took part in ant-fascist activities.
James Hopkins, the author of Into the Heart of the Fire: The British in the Spanish Civil War (1998) argues: “Felicia Browne possessed a strong dislike of privilege as well as abstemious personal habits and genuine artistic talent. She donated her personal fortune to refugees, and, in a subsequent period of privation, took employment in a restaurant kitchen. Her ability to speak four languages eased her travels through some of the most remote parts of Europe. She made her living by sketching portraits of people in the villages in which she stayed, traveling as far as the Tatra mountains in Czechoslovakia.”
In 1936 Felicia Browne travelled to Spain and then joined the Republican militia in defence of the Popular Front government. Browne argued that “I am a member of the London Communists and can fight as well as any man.” The fact that a British woman was fighting in the militia was reported in August in the Daily Express.
Sadly, On 25th August 1936, Browne was killed in Aragón during an attempt to blow up a rebel munition train. According to Georges Brinkman: “Although under heavy fire, she was trying to help a wounded member of the group”. Browne was the first British volunteer to be killed in the Spanish Civil War. As Angela Jackson pointed out in British Women and the Spanish Civil War (2002): “Her story has all the ingredients essential to heroic legend, the willing sacrifice of her life to save that of a comrade.”
From the research that I have found on Felicia Brown, it has shown me how much of a remarkable woman she was. She was strong, talented, confident, independent and brave. Such beautiful qualities to have and she seemed to always follow the path, that she thought would be for the greater of good. She is a very influential woman that most definitely deserves to be called a hero.
Felicia Browne Art Work
These are a few pieces of Art pieces Felicia Browne did throughout her life. I like how her work is simplistic and has a nice sense of flow. Even though her work is old, she still seems to draw in a very contemporary modern way. My favourite piece is the one with all the houses, I like how she has given some houses detail and some have been left bold. She’s worked well with the positive and negative areas, which has made the piece very effective.
After gathering my research on Felicia Browne, I got together with my group to discuss a plan of ideas for the upcoming finals. Before we got into throwing out our thoughts, we first had to figure out what the concept of it was going to be. Maris came to the conclusion that we should base it on Felicia Browne being a hero, as she risked her life in order to save a soldier in battle. We agreed that it would be the perfect perspective to work from, in order to portray Felicia Browne as the hero.
When I heard about the brief, I was told that we should become experimental within all elements of techniques. I thought it would be interesting to have a montage on the wall showing scenes, portraits and symbolic meanings casted across it. Using different sources like, like print, illustration, animation and graphics.
It took a while trying to get the group to all feel confident, with what they were developing their work in to. I found it very difficult when some members wouldn’t turn up and some would go off and do their own thing without discussing it as a group. I found from the miscommunication it was difficult to have a successful run throughout the process of it. What I did learn from this is that with every design, plan and group activity. You have to have someone that plays that dominant role within the group. I felt that Maris and I co-worked being the leaders, as we kept tabs on everyone and how their progress was coming along.
In our discussion we agreed to all go off and experiment with some rough designs and ideas to then bring back and talk about. Maris and me said we would work with the type ‘HERO.’
We decided to do letterpress for the type, as this is an old style of printing and it creates a nice rustic effect. Which is what we wanted the type to look like, conveying the time of the event Felicia Browne was in.
These were a few rough collaborations that I put together, in order to experiment with styles and compositions. Even though I think that these all have a certain quality to them, Maris and I agreed that we liked the originals, because of the ink splodges and how realisticly old it looked.
Then Jasmine wanted to work with the illustration, which she was going to base on the style Felicia Browne worked within. Samantha wanted to work with the animation, as she was confident with how she was going to collaborate it together. Lente was going to work with a photographic storyboard, of the event that was taken place of Felicia Browne’s time of death. Then finally we told George that we wanted a repeat pattern of the train, in a long strip and that he could do whatever he wanted to create that style of work.
From there we scattered out and started creating our pieces of work. I collaborated a layout of how the pieces could potentially look, just by adding some rough sketches of what we had already produced. Lente did the photograph, Jasmine did the illustration although I tweaked it a little and then finally I did a rough outline of how the repeat pattern of the train could look. I thought that we should do it in black and white to represent the age of the style and use a singular color, which could be in every design linking them together as one. I wanted to go with green so it could symbolize the war and the soldiers. However, the group liked the rustic yellow, so we decided on that.
When we all gathered back together we didn’t exactly work towards the brief that we all initially were working towards. Which meant that we had to juggle around with our ideas and composition a bit more. I was so pleased to see how much of a great outcome George did for the repeat pattern of the train.
Once we seen this, we new it went against the layout plan. Though we loved it that much, we decided we would work around his piece. Also Lente came up with an amazing contrast of turning an illustration into the reality of a photo, which I thought was genius.
However there was more photos than what we originally agreed on which meant we had to figure out a new layout strategy again. I thought it would be good to place our work on the whiteboard, in order visually imagine where we could place our designs, by drawing them on the board.
These were some of the layouts we came up with on the board. We would do the drawings of the designs in different colours, to help us indicate each possibility of the layout. We new for certain that the train was going to be the visual point and that the other designs would compliment it, by being gathered around it. We thought the type would look good below it, but we changed our minds because we thought most magazine, billboards and graphic design always show the hierarchy of the titles, at the top. We then moved on to Lente’s finished photos, by placing them on the wall. Suddenly, George gave us the idea that why don’t we create an illusion of all the designs creating a train track. We felt this would give our work a sense of movement and flow.
Finally this was our outcome of our final piece. We had a lot of experimentation with how we wanted the composition, but felt that this was our best outcome. We placed the design originally on an angled wall but it took away the effect of the train track illusion, so we had to find a wall that would benefit it.
My lecturer said that it might be good for the designs to have more space. When we did that the work looked very empty and the pieces looked lonely, you couldn’t see the connection. Which is why we placed them closer together.
From the illustration that Jasmine did, George played around with it so that it could fit in well with the style of work we had. For Samantha’s animation we placed it on the table but felt something was missing. I decided that we should put the laptop on the light box and give it a black backdrop, to give it that cinema feeling. Also the light from the light box complimented the images above because it made them glow, giving that sense of a heroic atmosphere. We seemed to go for quite an old but modern style of work. I liked how we made the images and styles work from an old view angle but they ended up turning out very contempory which gives a nice twist to it.
I am very happy with the outcome of our finals. Although it was difficult working and communicating with people that do a different subject. It was still enlightening to see what ideas they would come up with. I liked that we all spoke on a group chat and helped each other with the process of our outcomes. We criticized each other, so that we would improve and we also praised one another so that it would encourage us. It’s very beneficial to work with lots of different contacts because I believe then you will thrive through your work and a very communicational era.