Kessell studied at Clapham School of Art, then Central School of Arts and Crafts. During the Second World War, she was one of only three female war artists to be based abroad. Kessell was based in Germany where she documented refugees. At the end of the War she travelled to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, four months after it had been liberated by the Allied forces. Kessell witnessed the return of survivors to their home countries. A similar work to this dated 1960 is in the Tate Collection.