Lewis was born in Nova Scotia. In 1914 he was a founder of the Vorticist Group in London. During the First World War he served with the Royal Artillery and became an Official War Artist to the Canadian Corps Headquarters between 1917 and 1918. This picture, representing a scene in a Canadian brass foundry, was his only contribution to the War Artists Scheme of the Second World War. Stranded in Canada and short of money he had written to the War Artists Advisory Committee, who agreed to commission an oil or drawings. He later explained: 'It is a busy scene in a factory... there was a great deal of smoke and steam and not a great deal of light.'