Felicia Browne Project – Research

For this project we have been placed into groups based on an individual from the book ‘Cardiff and the Spanish Civil War’. From research and exploration we are required to review our given individual and create a piece of work in relation to it.

Felicia Browne Research

Felicia Browne was an artist and sculpture, originally born in Surrey. She studied in St John’s Wood School of Art before going on to study at the Slade Art School. She then went to Berlin to study sculpture and metalwork. It was during this time that she became aware of the Nazi rising, which led her to join the Communist in 1933. She went back to England after winning a Scholarship at Goldsmith’s University to study metalwork and for a while travelled around Europe, with her ability to speak four languages aiding her travels.

In 1936, Felicia Browne travelled to Spain with a friend and during that time the army revolted, causing Browne to join the Republican militia. She later learnt of a mission to blow up a facist munitions train and ‘boldly volunteered for it’. As she was a woman, the party attempted to dissuade her, however, she stated; ‘I am a member of the London Communist, and can fight as well any man’  

When the day arrived, Browne and nine others set on completing the mission, the charges were set, but not long after came under heavy fire. Despite this, Browne, rather than fleeing, stayed to help a wounded soldier. As a result she was killed.

Felicia Browne was the first woman to be killed during the Spanish Civil War, she is remembered as a hero for her bravery and sacrifice. She gave her life trying to save another. As Angela Jackson stated in British Women and the Spanish Civil War (2002); ‘Her story has all the ingredients essential to heroic legend, the willing sacrifice of her life to save that of her comrade’ 

Her Work…


It was said that Felicia Browne often documented her travels and experiences through writing letters and sketching. The sketches above are only an example, but I think it’s clear to see that she has distinct style attached to them. She seems to combine strokes of charcoal with delicate lines to build up the image. The drawings feel light and delicate with a good balance of light and dark, creating a contrast which is not too heavy for the weight of the lines.

  • I think that this is a style to consider when thinking of what to do for the piece?

Work Created During the Spanish Civil War…

The styles of the posters are very graphic through the use of bold colours and a combination of type and imagery. Nonetheless, the messages behind the posters are clear and are communicated effectively. They instill a sense of fear and urgency into the viewer. For me the most powerful poster is the centre one. The striking typeface along with the colour red and sharp, bold lines that make up the illustrations all work together to create a sense of chaos and destruction. There is a clear sense of suffering occurring, which can be felt through the decisions made within the poster.

  • Do we take inspiration from the style within these posters for our own work? I personally think that this style of work dramatically contrasts with Felicia Browne’s style of sketching. Could this work together or not?



Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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