Practical information

  • Location Concert Hall
  • Date 1 June 2024 - 31 December 2024
  • Timing 10h00 - 17h30
  • Price Included in your museum visit


It was not in hate but in love that your son, your brother, your husband, went about his duty in Flanders. It was love with him all the time; love brought him here, for your sake.

Padre Philip Tubby Clayton of Talbot House eloquently expresses the soldiers’ love for their country and family during his pilgrimages shortly after the war. One hundred years later, it is still that familial love that draws them back to this region. They seek the place, far from home, inexorably linked to their memories. Once found, they leave behind ‘something’ as evidence of their pilgrimage. Sometimes a copy of a photograph, encased in plastic to withstand the elements, suddenly gives a face to the chiseled name…

It is precisely these photos that inspired the Ypres-based artist Yves Delplace. The fact that these photos were taken a century ago, with the underlying fear that this might be their last image. Boys, men in civilian clothes or uniforms. Their confident gaze toward the photographer, faded and bleached by rain and sun. Symbolism of vulnerability.

Yves began to paint the photos, just as they were. Executed in black and white using various materials: pen and ink, pencil, acrylic paint, marker, … The format, however, remains consistent: postcard size. A dialogue between diversity and equality. No preliminary sketches, studies, scans, or copying are involved. Ink stains that appear random and accidental are guided until the features of the individuals emerge. Then, they are refined to achieve the best possible and most evocative likeness. Sometimes Yves starts anew, but the existing work serves as the foundation.

What began a few years ago as the creation of a portrait from a partially decayed photograph found under the Menin Gate has now grown to 463 portraits. Yves came into contact with David Delva, a gardener at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. While withered flowers, wreaths, and similar items eventually find their way to containers, David couldn’t bear to throw away the photos, so he began collecting them. The news spread quickly among colleagues, and from then on, the photos were handed over to David.

From David’s collection, Yves initially made a selection, but ultimately, he painted all the photos, precisely to emphasize their large number. Each portrait is unique. When presented side by side, the differences become apparent. It’s not about a group of portraits; rather, it’s a collection of individuals. Each portrait represents a specific person. What binds them together is that they all became victims of the madness of war and are still missed to this day.

Yves Delplace has been working as a painter and restorer for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for 40 years. The CWGC and Talbot House have strong historical ties dating back to the war years.

After the exhibition, Yves will offer the works for sale. For more information, please speak to our reception.