Around the White House at Gilwell Park hang a series of paintings which capture the early ethos and endeavours of the Scout Movement, and act as lasting memorial to the artist and pioneering Scouter Ernest Stafford Carlos.
Ernest studied at the Lambeth Art School and Royal Academy before becoming a successful artist. As his career developed his works started to tell stories with a social conscience. His work “Rejected and Dejected” was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1908 and showed a former soldier he’d met at a Church Army Shelter, the portrait had a powerful impact and was later used on Labour Party election leaflets. Ernest’s awareness of the social issues facing London’s poor led to his involvement in Scouting. Working alongside other early Scouting pioneers, such as Roland Philipps and Anthony Slingsby, Ernest helped take Scouting into London’s most at need communities. He founded the 107th London Scout Troop in Camberwell, South London. Ernest’s Scouting provided new inspiration for his artwork.
Ernest created a series of Scout paintings which captured the public imagination and were reproduced many times. Millions of people will have seen one of his paintings without even knowing it, as a copy of “The Pathfinder” has appeared on the set of Coronation Street for over 50 years.
On the outbreak of the First World War Ernest tried to join the Army but was rejected on medical grounds. Alongside his work in the community he continued to paint Scouting subjects including “Coast Watching” (1915) depicting two Sea Scouts supporting the war effort on the home front.
In 1916 Ernest enlisted again and this time was successful initially serving a Private but soon receiving a commission to serve as a Second Lieutenant with the East Kent Regiment. On the 14 June 1917, after just three months on active service, Ernest was killed by shellfire as led his platoon in an attack. He is commemorated on the Royal Academy war memorial to former students and through a stained glass window depicting The Pathfinder at his family church in Hornchurch, East London.
The paintings held in The Scout Association Heritage Collection were digitised as part of a partnership project with Art UK, they can be seen on the Art UK website.