Cyril Hamersma - Artist

Cyril Hamersma - Artist
Hamersma - Artist at Work

Cyril Hamersma - Artist - 1919 to 1994

Also a prolific writer and inventor . . .
Born 1919, London
Painted from an early age
Served in Royal Army Medical
Corps 1939-45
Taught art to fellow prisoners in Stalag VIIIB
Caring jobs
throughout his life to make ends meet
Married and with four daughters
Died 1994, Essex
This man could paint. See his self-portraits: 1965, 1983, 1992. See his landscapes, 'The Cornfield' and his nudes. He also understood the value of abstract art in touching people's awareness and he conveyed ideas through images which provoked enlightenment, pleasure and emotion in the viewers. Hamersma’s artwork regularly focused on the simple things in life: a juicy red apple; a welcoming pot of tea; a freshly fried egg – the basics of which he was, along with many thousands of men, deprived for four years as a prisoner of war in Germany in World War II. Abstract explorations were similarly derivative. He was fascinated by ‘the line’ in art. Where does one object finish and another begin, when you look at them as a two dimensional image? And every object is made up of cells, minuscule cells invisible to the naked eye but Hamersma exploded ideas and looked further into them, painting and drawing ‘cells’; images made up of cells; ‘metaphysical cell structures’ which led him to invent the Squircle. It was his Squircle work that became the pinnacle. “The Squircle is Art, Science and Religion – together in one image,” he said in January 1994. “Light invites everyone to join the fight against the darkness. Our hearts and eyes are drawn together to eliminate and squeeze,” he wrote in March 1994

Monday, 29 October 2007


Now I Can Tell It in sketches and words by Cyril HamersmaA Prisoner of War Remembers Stalag VIIIB 
This book was published on 3rd September 2006

In 1939 a young man, who'd lived a sheltered life, was called up to serve for his country. A minor health problem had prevented Hamersma from attaining the education he deserved; and anyway, his youth was spent in the years of The Depression. Nobody of his age had experienced the world. Traveling to 'the Holy Land' and Greece, seeing the sights we now regard as tourist spots, learning the ways of the world; it was exciting and stimulating. Hamersma sketched at every possible moment, as a photographer records every nuance of a scene.

As an orderly in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Hamersma witnessed the ravages of war first-hand. Yet within months, he and many thousands of troops were captured by the Germans and shuttled, in death-defying conditions, to Stalag VIIIB. It was four years before he could return home. At the time, of course, nobody knew when the war would end, if ever. Sketching and painting on any scrap of paper helped him and provided interest to his fellow prisoners but no artwork survived when they were all released.

For forty years he remained quiet and humble about his traumatic experience as a POW, but in 1984 he was able to express himself through recreating the drawings and sketches that had been so cruelly lost when the prisoners were liberated and the camp dismantled. Unable to keep all these new sketches he took photos to make into a slide show and he made a tape recording to accompany the slides.

This book puts all the material together so that - as Hamersma said was his reason for uncovering the painful memories - it may help others. ISBN 0 95444 659 3 This is a limited edition and all copies are now sold.

The publisher address for special requests is available by email. This publication, like all Writing Life® books, is a self-funding, non-profitmaking venture.

Softback, perfect bound. 150 pages. including approx. 80 exclusive colour images and 3 photos of Hamersma as a soldier. Contact Braintree District Museum - there might still be one for sale in their shop.

List of Owners (First 25)

1. James Baker, Art Collector, London W1
2. Peter Bailey, Writer, UK
3. Jean-Pierre Appel, Lutheran Pastor, Wisconsin, USA
4. Barbara. A Rope, Writer, Spain
5. The Family Budd, Van Gogh enthusiasts, UK
6. Emily Davies, Granddaughter, UK
7. Private
8. Theresa Le Flem, Daughter, Artist, Novelist, UK
9. Mr & Mrs P. Hillman, UK
10. Hilary Custance Green, Author, Cambridge UK
11. Bernie Ross, Daughter
12. Leon Ross & Emma Hogarth, Grandson & partner
13. Brian & Muriel Baker, Hamersma 'fans', UK
14. Imperial War Museum, London
15. Braintree District Museum
16. Braintree District Museum shop
17. Braintree District Museum shop
18. Mrs Jacqui North, long-standing friend of the family
19. Pam and Ron Wood
20. Legal Deposit Library
21. Legal Deposit Library
22. Legal Deposit Library
23. Legal Deposit Library
24. Legal Deposit Library
25. Legal Deposit Library

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I bought a copy of the book Now I Can Tell It, in sketches and words, by Cyril Hamersma.

You may not realise it at first but this book, compiled and edited by Bernie Ross, is about Bernie’s father and his experiences as a prisoner in Stalag VIIIB.

I have only ever met the son of a P.O.W. before and he had a very different story. The reason I want to write about the book is the way I was moved by not only the story, but also the artwork. He was obviously a very talented man.

Can you imagine living in conditions beyond belief and the man wanted to express himself in art and words? I read the book on Saturday morning and I have it on my coffee table. I find myself looking at his artwork throughout the days that have since passed. I love art and having attended art classes and dabbled a little myself, I realise how hard it can be, and this is what I keep coming back to. A man in such conditions is driven to sketch and draw the limited things he has before him, but in his eyes they are not limited.

I often say I don’t know what to draw; maybe I’m spoilt for choice. Cyril Hamersma projects life forms and conditions onto paper that have made me feel the suffering he and the other prisoners had to endure. His work cannot be described as in the style of impressionism: it evokes too much emotion. He has a unique style of his own.

It’s a shame we have to label any work that we do nowadays, either in writing or art. I see the obvious need, but Cyril’s art is from his soul and it screams out from the paper.

Be that, his fascination of a famous world landmark or a fellow prisoner in chains, the observer certainly gets the message.

Thank you Bernie for sharing your dad’s story.

Barbara A. Rope