On 6th September 2014 the Mayor of Medway, Cllr Barry Kemp, publicly unveiled the Guildhall Museum’s cemorative acquisition, a superb depiction of a busy naval scene on the River Medway in 1914 by local artist Kevin Clarkson.
Entitled ‘Live-Bait; the 7th Cruiser Squadron, Chatham 1914’ the painting was commissioned by the Museum to mark Medway's contribution to the war effort in the 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the Great War.
Kevin Clarkson is Vice Chairman of the Old Royal Naval College Art Club. He specializes in subjects with historical aviation or maritime themes.
Kevin’s brief was to produce a painting that reflected the contribution of the Medway Towns and that would form an attractive and thought-provoking exhibit. He chose to depict a scene which preceded a great naval disaster at the beginning of the War. The Royal Navy's aged cruisers, HMS Cressy, HMS Aboukir and HMS Houge are shown at anchor at Chatham Dockyard. Overhead fly two Shorts aircraft Type 827. Rochester Castle and Cathedral can be seen in the distance.Kevin explained, “The subject of the painting rather selected itself. I was looking for an event at the beginning of the First World War, which had a direct effect on the Medway towns. The loss of the three cruisers, with their Chatham based crews, sent a shockwave through the towns, a glimpse of the carnage which would overtake Europe in the next four years.”