Flour sacks. The art of charity. 2020 Yearbook In Flanders Fields Museum

Annelien van Kempen conducted research into the decorated WWI flour sacks of the In Flanders Fields Museum. Photo: Marc Dejonckheere

My article “Flour sacks. The art of charity” has been published in the 2020 Yearbook of the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres!

In the summer of 2019, I conducted research into the decorated WWI flour sacks in the museum’s collection*). One of my ‘sack trips’ took me to Ypres, where I examined the American and Canadian flour sacks for a week thanks to a grant from the Koen Koch Foundation. The museum possesses 23 original flour sacks, eight of those have been included in Flanders’ List of Masterpieces as unique heritage items.

In my article, I report in word and image on my discoveries and give historical context to the Ypres collection of flour sacks. The following topics are discussed: the supply of food to Belgium; the US charities with a graph of contributions by state; Madame Lalla Vandervelde, her journey through America and successful appeal for aid to the Belgians; examples of the Belgian charities with an infographic showing dozens of sales exhibitions of flour sacks held between 1915-1925; girls’ education in vocational schools with unique photos of their lessons; German censorship on decorated flour sacks.

Flour sacks. The art of charity. In Flanders Fields Museum, room divider details; photos: author

My conclusion is: decorated WWI flour sacks are the symbol of the many charities run and supported by Belgian women and girls during the German occupation, besides the symbol of international food aid and Belgian gratitude.

Here is the link to the article: “Flour sacks. The art of charity.

The IFFM Yearbook 2020 is beautifully designed by Manu Veracx. The original Dutch article with 17 color and 7 black and white illustrations, is fully translated in English by Marc Hutsebaut; it covers 9 pages. You can order the IFFM Yearbook 2020 through the webshop of the museum.

Collection WWI flour sacks, In Flanders Fields Museum. Artistic photo collage: Annelien van Kempen, April 2020. 2020 Yearbook IFFM

*) Marc Dejonckheere interviewed me for VIFF Magazine, magazine of The Friends of the In Flanders Fields Museum; “The emotions of the flour sack” was published in September 2019.

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