‘War Memorial’ is an art work which acknowledges the fundamental bond between photographs and memories. A purpose built vitrine (a response to the Portsmouth Naval Memorial for all those lost at sea during WW1 and WW2 for whom there is no known grave) contains a display of photographs and photo albums made by 39 British soldiers and sailors over the last 100 years, offering a direct link to the experiences service men and women chose to record. From Galipoli to Bolshevik Russia during WW1; from Italy to Burma in WW2; from Korea, Kenya, Suez and Northern Ireland to the Falklands, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a timeline of tension and travel, conflict and comradeship, bravery, boredom and brutality.
The pictures were often made in rough conditions in far flung corners of the world, but the albums (including the slideshows on PC’s) were almost always put together later, in the safety and comfort of home, occasionally revealing aspects of family life too. The common language of snapshot photographs in albums suggests a kind of authenticity and reveals the link between conflict and domesticity that is absent in conventional war photographs.
The photographs and albums were collected through a public appeal and from the archives of the Royal Naval Museum, Royal Marines Museum and Royal Submarines Museum. The project was commissioned by Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth.