By Madeleine Laplante-Dube, For The Miami Student
Tuesday brings with it the second round of speeches at Miami given by Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill.
Churchill, who was revered and widely respected in retrospect for his exceptional leadership as the UK’s Prime Minister during 1940-1945 at the height of World War II, and again from 1951-1955, will be examined through lenses that will look at him as not one entity, but many; that he was both a worldwide leader in a coalition, and also “Grandfather.”
At 4 p.m. in the Miami University Art Museum, Sandys will be covering the beloved hobby of the Churchill in her lecture “Painting as a Pastime.”
She will follow with “The Power of Words,” a 7 p.m. speech given in Taylor Auditorium, Farmer School of Business, as a reflection on Churchill’s astonishing and applicable leadership skills.
The main idea of the lecture series is to get a glimpse of Churchill’s humanity.
“I think I’m very lucky to have the chance to be able to tell people about my grandfather, who now very much is in the history books,” Sandys said. “So if I can bring him to life a bit because I knew him, I’m lucky to be able to do it.”
Sandy has authored five books detailing Churchill’s life.
“Winston Churchill saved Western civilization. Some people may argue about it, but he quite literally did that,” said Justin Reash, Miami graduate, chapter coordinator and recent addition to The Churchill Centre, the organization sponsoring the lecture series.
Reash has been responsible for rebranding and modernizing The Churchill Centre.
“It was founded in the 60s as a [group of] people that collected Winston Churchill stamps — then someone was said, ‘Well let’s start meeting together,’ and then we [eventually] had a magazine that came out of that,” Reash said.
The legacy of Churchill, however, remains in the hands of later generations. The goal of The Churchill Centre is to preserve that legacy, and in order for that to be possible it has to be accessible to younger people.
“Students don’t want to pay for anything,” Reash said. “When I was a student I wanted to drink beer and I had absolutely no money, so I said we need to give students free stuff.”
The Centre provides free registration and gives out free books and magazines as a way to break down barriers between the younger generation and the older. The Churchill Centre is a point of convergence between what we have learned about leadership as a human race and how we can apply that knowledge, Reash said.
Sandys is the bridge between the two ideas.
“I don’t consider myself to be a historian,” Sandys said. “I try to write about areas of my grandfather’s life which other people haven’t touched on, really. And I’ve been lucky that I’ve found various areas that have been pretty well virgin territory. For me that’s exciting and fun.”
In her journeys and adventures chasing Churchill’s legacy beyond that of a grandfather, Sandys’ highlighting of Churchill as a painter turns out to be as much of a part of the man’s identity as leading an entire country through a World War.
“In the lowest point of his life, my grandfather discovered painting,” she recounted. “This was during WWI, after the big disaster in Gallipoli. One day he picked up one of his children’s paint boxes and started playing with it, and then decided he would try painting. And he loved it.”
Painting as a pastime became a meditation for Churchill.
“It gave him a way to relax and a way to escape from all the pressures that were going on around him. He lived a very pressurized life. He used to call his moments of depression his ‘Black Dog,’ and so this was his relief from [it],” Sandys said.
The stories behind some of Winston Churchill’s 500 finished canvases will be explained at 4 p.m. in the Art Museum, not lacking some fun facts.
“He painted a famous painting [when he was] in Morocco, which actually Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own,” Reash said.
For The Power of Words, Sandys’ 7 p.m. lecture, Sandys hints, “I’m not going to say the speeches; he’s going to help me.”
The depth of the relationship between Churchill and the rest of his family cannot be fully articulated in an article.
Sandys’ lecture series will shed at least a little bit of light on the man — not the just the Prime Minister, but the man — that Winston Churchill was.
“Celia is actually quite like her grandfather in many ways,” Reash said. “When you see her at these presentations, she’s just so believable because she was there, because it happened. I think she really will connect with students. Just the way she is — I can’t really explain it to be honest with you. She just has a presence, it’s very powerful.”
If viewers take away only one thing from her two-day series, Sandys said she hopes it will be “what [Churchill] said to the boys of Harrow, his old school, during the war when they’d been bombed, which is ‘never, never, never give in.’”