Battleland seeks to represent contemporary landscapes from rejuvenated World War One battlefields along the Western Front. Soil and flower samples were collected in order to create organic chromatographs to represent traces of matter that are otherwise dormant and unseen. The artworks seek to highlight the fate of many thousands of fallen soldiers that still reside in the soil.
The chromatographs were created using a soil quality technique developed by German scientist Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (1899-1961). His intention was to analyse the organic compounds of soil, flora and fauna for the purposes of agricultural quality testing. The process uses a dilution of silver nitrate as a photosensitive base for the circular filter papers. The secondary organic material is soaked in sodium hydroxide and the process is repeated. Finally, the filter paper is exposed to sunlight in order for the characteristics of the sample to appear.
Personal Work for MA Studies
I am focusing on WWI for my current studies and my ‘Men of Steel’ photographic dioramas were created specifically in collaboration with the Steel Remembered project. I met organiser Suzy whilst I was photographing a conference in Cardiff. When everyone is eating (not good for photographs) I normally walk around the exhibition stalls. As I am focusing on WWI I couldn’t help be drawn to their project stand. In short the project is concerned with the 852 men from the Orb Lysaght Steelworks in Newport who went to fight in the Great War. The project aims to research the names on the war memorial and gather stories from residents and community groups. I am delighted to be involved and my work is currently being shown at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay until January 25th 2018.
Shadows of the Great War
As part of my Masters degree in Documentary Photography, I have been working on a project using silhouettes and projections entitled Shadows of the Great War.
The depictions of life, both in the trenches and on the home front, during the First World War provides the subject matter for The Shadows of The Great War project. It was inspired by a personal journey following in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, a bombardier, who fought on the Western Front. Local museums readily displayed found WWI artifacts; a broken comb; a weathered bible; letters home; diaries; rust ridden pistols; condemned razors; silent whistles; boot soles; half buttons; expended bullets but above all, photographs. It is when the relics were placed within the photographic scene, combined with the men who once owned them, that their purpose and identity was firmly established.
Historic photographs from 1914-18 are used in order to create new fictional narratives by re-appropriating the images for the purposes of storytelling using a silhouette technique. This adaption and manipulation alleviates the notion of creating a means of reality, often associated with photography, as the original details are removed. The scenes in this project are not historically accurate, nor are they intended to echo the reality of the story. Where there is no photographic evidence, the scenes merely act as indexical fictions and illustrative illusions, created through inaccuracy, imagination and compilation.
The purpose of the work is to create a visual aesthetic that tells a story in reference to other textual or visual imagery. Primary research from WWI archives using texts, memoirs and other documents informs the conception of a scene. Fragmented imagery, both real and imagined merge in the form of the final tableaux to again ‘fix the shadows’ of those that history may have forgot.
A quick glimpse into my forthcoming personal work for a group exhibition this May in Jacob’s Gallery, Cardiff. More to come …