Ballads of Battle - Joseph Lee, Poet and Artist

Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee

27 August – 3 December 2016

Mon-Fri 09.30-19.00 Sat 13.00-17.00


arts2704This exhibition celebrates the life and work of the Dundee writer and illustrator Joseph Lee, and marks the centenary of his first book of war poetry, Ballads of Battle. The book established him as one of Scotland’s finest Great War poets, and critics placed him alongside the likes of Owen, Brooke and Sassoon. Although his reputation has since been unfairly eclipsed, his poetry and war memoirs remain powerfully evocative and authentic. What makes Lee even more remarkable is that before the war he had a highly successful career as a journalist and was also a skilled artist who illustrated his own books and periodicals. After the war he moved to London to study at the Slade alongside the likes of Stanley Spencer.

This exhibition is drawn from the unique collection of artworks, publications and documents held by the University of Dundee’s Archives and Museum Services, as well as some items on loan from other local collections.


Special Events!

Sunday 23 October, 11am

Family Workshop: Tales o' Our Town

As part of Dundee Literary Festival, this event takes place at Verdant Works and is inspired by Joseph Lee’s first illustrated poetry collection (1910) about his hometown Dundee. The workshop is led by writer Zoe Venditozzi and comics artist Jules Valera, and will also introduce Dundee’s wonderful ‘Journeys’ project: an interactive map of Dundee where anyone can upload stories, memories, poems or short pieces of descriptive writing about specific areas and addresses in Dundee. Visit the Dundee Literary Festival website for details.


Friday 11 November, 1.20pm

Lunchtime Concert - Ballads of Battle

As part of the University's lunchtime concert series taking place in Bonar Hall, Ken Murray (baritone) and Graeme Stevenson (piano) will perform musical settings of Lee's poems that have not been performed since the Great War. No need to book - visit the Lunchtime Concerts website for details.


Friday 11 November, 5.30pm

The Things I’ve Seen – Joseph Lee in Context

An evening of short talks and readings exploring the background to Lee’s war poetry, with contributions from Derek Patrick, David Powell and Andy Jackson. No need to book - meet in the Lamb Gallery.


Wednesday 30 November, 7pm

Fra Lippo Lippi

JOOT Theatre Company will be doing a dramatised reading of Joseph Lee's play in the Drama Studio of the Dalhousie building. Tickets are £3 / £2 concessions, available on the night.



The University has recently published a new edited anthology of Lee's poetry, available to purchase here.




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