The great-grandson of one of the worlds most beloved British statesmen, Winston Churchill, spoke Friday evening in Dawson County about how painting saved Britain and likely the world from tyranny and destruction during World War II.
In 1940, when people were telling Churchill there was no hope, that we needed to make some deal with Germany, he saw otherwise, Duncan Sandys told a packed house at the Big Canoe Clubhouse. You have to think on some level, everything he learned from painting, helped him see what was important.
And what was important was to stop Germanys march across Europe.
On May 10, 1940, Adolph Hilter began his Western offensive sending forces into Holland and Belgium. On the same day, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned, and Winston Churchill took office.
The Dutch and Belgian governments appealed to Britain for help. Churchill, the British Parliament thought, could generate support for the war effort.
Winston our hope he may yet save civilization, one member of Parliament wrote.
In the midst of war, Churchill, who was 40-years-old, began teaching himself how to paint.
He became immersed in his painting, and I think he was an early practitioner of what we now know as mindfulness, Duncan Sandys said. The idea that you are in the present, you are undistracted by the past, undistracted by what your hopes are for the future. He brought these things into his present life.
To Churchill, painting was about having fun, and he wasnt concerned with producing a masterpiece.
He looked at painting very scientifically, Sandys said. He found he had a heightened sense of awareness. He talked about his ability to conceptualize. Painting helped him see what was important. He was able to focus on the limited resources he had at the time in order to push back Germany.
Churchill didnt worry about his reputation as a painter, because he didnt have one. He had been a successful author, journalist and politician.
So he was prepared to experiment and through this, he heightened his courage, Sandys said. He heightened his ability to risk failure, and this is something today, nobody wants. People dont encourage failure. If we want to be competitive in the world, look at other countries that are taking the risks and risking failure.
We have to do that.
Sandys' visit was a fundraiser for the Dawson County Republican Party, one day before its local convention was held on Saturday.
Winston Churchill was very good at looking at history, Sandys explained. What are the lessons of history we can apply today? The lesson we have to have in our leaders and in our young people is the courage to fail in order to learn new things to move forward.
Several guests in the audience were asked why they attended the event.
Winston Churchill stood up for his country, and our country needs somebody to stand up for it, Dawson resident Mimi Tash said. I hope those people will be energized by this talk.
Lisa Brabham said it was Churchills historical impact that affected her.
He made a difference in the world, and I wanted to see what his great-grandson had to say.
Jeanne Holbook felt similarly.
Churchill stood up to evil and tyranny, she said.
In honor of all self-taught artists like Churchill, Blacks Mill Elementary School Art teacher, Tracey Burnette, presented Sandys with a handmade face jug.
"I think Sir Winston would have appreciated this," Burnette said.