VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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The Road Sweeper
95651
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Though not an artist by profession, Haxworth displayed great skill and was able to capture the essence of his surroundings and the events that took place during his captive years. Haxworth’s artwork illustrated a human aspect of the darkest period of Singapore’s modern history. Collectively, his drawings cleverly portrayed the stark change in the lifestyle of the European colonial administrators when they fell from grace and became POWs under an Asian “master”. As POWs, they were used as labour and were sent out regularly in work parties whenever and wherever the Japanese needed them. The featured artwork is one of Haxworth’s ‘rare’ charcoal sketches, which is not only a representation of his keen artistic eye, but is also a depiction of one of the many roles which the ex-colonial administrators were forced into as POWs when they were sent out to work by the Japanese. The material with which the artwork was created is also a true reflection of the resource scarcity problem that they faced at that time.

History of the Object
This drawing was hand-drawn by Mr. W.R.M. Haxworth (1906-1985), who was a civilian internee in the Changi Prison and subsequently the Sime Road Internment Camp, during the Japanese occupation of Singapore (1942-1945). In all, Haxworth drew over 400 paintings during his internment. After the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Haxworth was reinstated to the Financial Department and retired in 1954 as the Chief Superintendent of Traffic. He subsequently returned to England, bringing along his collection of sketches and paintings. A year following his passing in 1985, his entire collection of 400 paintings and sketches were generously donated to the National Archives of Singapore by Mrs. E. Haxworth.

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Type
Drawing 
Materials
Drawing Paper; Charcoal 
Measurements
Width 17,0 cm. Length 25.,0 cm.  
Creator name
W.R.M. Haxworth 
Creator date
1906 - 1985 
Where it was made
Singapore; Changi Prison 
Geography
Singapore 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 14 Jan 1945 
Function
Illustration of one of the ‘roles’ that POWs had to play during internment as they were sent out to work by the Japanese. The artist added a touch of humour by describing it as a fellow internee’s (John) “career” progress in camp. 
Acquisition
Acquired by the National Archives of Singapore in 1986. 
Copyright
The National Archives of Singapore reserves the right to take legal action if the photograph is used for a purpose in excess of what has been approved by the copyright owner(s) or used without permission for undeclared purpose(s).  
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The National Archives of Singapore 
Museum
National Archives 
Credit line
Haxworth Collection, Courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore 

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