NONESMANNESLOND

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“Nonesmanneslond”: installation of silver leafed brambles at the Fleur de Lys, Faversham in August 2016. ACE funded commission for the “Legacy and Localism”project looking at the impact of World War 1 on Faversham.

The starting point for this work came from the correspondence of Private Ernest Cutcliffe held in the Fleur de Lys archives. He wrote two letters to his family whilst a prisoner and patient in a German hospital before his death in 1918. I was struck by the kindness that he received from the Germans and the oddness of being cared for in an unfamiliar enemy environment, removed from the fighting, in a physical state between life and death. This started me thinking of “no man’s land”, an indeterminate or undefined place or state: an actual and metaphorical space in World War 1, but a term dating back to the Middle Ages, “nonesmanneslond”. I also read about the explosions at the Cotton Powder Company, and imagine Uplees after the Great Explosion in 1916 as a desperate, fractured landscape similar to the Somme: the tangled brambles now growing over the abandoned site again recalling the barbed wire which separated the trenches from no man’s land.

My piece “Nonesmanneslond” is a temporary installation demarking a piece of space between the gallery floor and ceiling. It is constructed from bramble sections gilded with silver leaf to look like metal, in contrast to the metal camouflage tree observation posts made during World War 1 to look like foliage. The very act of applying silver leaf to thorny plant stems is preposterous, like many of the actions ordered during the war. The bramble tendrils are broken and tied together, and the bandage which has been snared on these has fragments of one of Private Cutcliffe’s letters on it, highlighting one personal tragedy amongst millions between 1914 and 1918.

 

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Initial ideas around injury and camouflage. Etched lino cuts with soldier motifs, the soldier image inspired by the photo of Private Sharp in the Fleur archives. There is a tear in the photo of him at exactly the point on his arm where he received a shrapnel wound.

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Start of camouflage painting experiments- large painting 1.5 x 1 metres

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