A 1944 Pastoral : Land Girls Pruning at East Malling

Evelyn Mary Dunbar, 18/12/1906 - 1960

A 1944 Pastoral : Land Girls Pruning at East Malling

Evelyn Mary Dunbar 18/12/1906 - 1960


A view along a long avenue of trees in winter, with groups of women pruning them and carrying away the dead wood. Three women stand in the foreground to right, pruning the nearest trees, two standing on white ladders. Another woman in foreground to left, carries a ladder away from the viewer. More women can be seen all along the avenue engaged in the same activity. Hills are visible in the distance beneath a cloudy sky. The scene is surrounded by a brown painted frame containing different motifs, including gloved hands each holding a pair of secateurs, a bowl of apples, a plate of apples, a gloved hand holding a small saw, and a gloved hand holding a serrated knife. East Malling Research Station in Kent was established in 1913 as a government owned establishment (privatised in 2007). It is the leading fruit research centre in the UK. Evelyn Dunbar worked as a war artist, documenting the work of the Women's Land Army. Although this painting refers to the pastoral tradition in its title, it is far from an idealised view of rural labour. The addition of women's hands hands holding pruning tools around the border of the image may relate to Dunbar's work as an illustrator of publications like 'A Book of Farmcraft' (1942) which featured step-by-step instructional drawings for agricultural tasks.

Display Label

A 1944 Pastoral: Land Girls Pruning at East Malling Evelyn Dunbar 1906-1960 Oil on canvas Recruits from the Women's Land Army are here shown pruning apple trees in a small village just outside Maidstone in Kent. The Land Army was set up to encourage women to work on farms to help the war effort. The surround of hands with secateurs suggests diagrams from a training manual. Dunbar painted murals in the 1930s. She was invited by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record the Land Army and other war work by women. Her subjects included sprout picking, making radar tubes and practising milking with artificial udders. Presented by H M Government War Artists Advisory Committee 1947.393

Object Name

A 1944 Pastoral : Land Girls Pruning at East Malling

Creators Name

Evelyn Mary Dunbar

Date Created



framed: 106.8cm x 136.9cm
unframed: 91.3cm x 121.8cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Gift of H.M. Government War Artists' Advisory Committee.


© transferred to MCGs from the War Artists Advisory Committee, Ministry of Information (1947)

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