As a Landscape Photographer, I spend a considerable amount of time just gazing at the countryside around me and in particular the fields of Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex.
“Home is the landscape that is familiar to us – that we glance at as we leave to hold in our memory and that we search for as we return”.
This is something that we all respond to in an instinctive way, but I have wondered how much more painful the parting would be in different circumstances. If my return from the forefront of war was far less than certain.
The poetry of the First World War poets inspired a set of photographs that touch on these feelings, reflecting on my own responses to this period in our history and nature’s continual cycle of renewal.
These images taken whilst studying for my MA in Art & Design at the University of Portsmouth became part of a set of books ’England Remembered’ and ‘Scars upon my Heart’ which formed my final project submission in 2008.
It was several years later in 2014 that a chance conversation with one of my colleagues sparked the concept to link the photographs and the war poets’ verses with modern-day responses. Holly Purslow’s contribution to the project was key and she became instrumental in introducing me to a group of local writers who were keen to take up this challenge.
“The use of the pastoral to both allude to the Great War and to offer a healing balm unites the work of the war poets featured, many of whom revealed mixed feelings towards the War. Brooke’s pro-War stance was not typical, rather it is ambivalence that marks how we memorialise the War. This is revealed in the work of the modern day writers whose original works convey understanding and commemoration”.
Kathryn Rimmington (Introduction to England Remembered)
The ‘England Remembered Exhibition and Poetry Performance’ was held in October 2014 at Art Space Portsmouth and included readings by all the modern day poets. This event also provided the opportunity to screen a collaborative video; fusing photographic images and innovative animation, created by Helen June Crumpholt.
All the participants in the project were eager to see this work develop further into a brand-new version of the book, where the animation lines, photographs and poetry could sit alongside short biographies of the First World War poets, providing viewers with a setting off point to explore this compelling genre.
Fellow Artist, Natalie Dowse, has now created the most amazing design for this book which will be published in 2021 as both a softbacked edition and a special limited hardback version.
All of the modern day writers have given permission for their work to be published free of charge and this non-profit fund-raising book will provide essential donations to the tri-service charity H4H (Help for Heroes). Images are produced with kind permission of the National Trust and West Dean Gardens and this Project is supported by the University of Portsmouth.
This blog has provided the opportunity to expand on my research for the ‘England Remembered Book’ and to share this with you as I progress through the final stages of completing the book. Hopefully, you will find these posts interesting and join us for the crowdfunding and book launch events – now delayed until Autumn 2021.
Further details on the dedicated England Remembered website will follow.
Jacky Dillon MA
My sincere thanks to all the Contributors:
Soldier Poets of the Great War 1914-18:
- Edward Thomas, 2nd Lieutenant, 244 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
- Nowell Oxland, 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Battalion, Border Regiment
- Issac Rosenberg, Private, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment
- Robert Graves, Captain, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd Lieutenant, 2nd Welsh Regiment
- Francis Brett Young, Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps.
- E.A. Mackintosh, Lieutenant, No 4 Company, 4th Seaforth Highlanders
- Ivor Gurney, Private, Gloucestershire Regiment
- Francis Ledwidge, Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
- Edmund Blunden, 2nd Lieutenant, 11th Royal Sussex Regiment
- R.E. Vernede, Lieutenant, Rifle Brigade
- E.W. Tennant, Lieutenant, 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards
- Charles Hamilton Sorley, Captain, Suffolk Regiment
- Rupert Brooke, Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Division
Modern Day Writers and Poets:
- Denise Bennett, Poet
- Christopher Martin, Writer & Poet
- Tom Gorman, Writer & Poet
- Em Rahman, Writer
- Holly Purslow, Writer & Poet
- Simon Roots, Musician & Writer
- Alison Hill, Writer & Poet
- Timothy Barrow, Poet
- Tanya Cowin, Performance Artist
- Brian Porter, Performance Artist
- Fiona McVey, Researcher & Local Historian
- Lauren Sherry, Interviewer & Writer
Photography and Video:
- Jacky Dillon, Photographer & Writer
- Helen June Crumpholt, Animator & Video Artist
- Natalie Dowse, Artist & Designer