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Drawing it all Together – Home Lad Home

by James on January 21st, 2014

On the path at the site of Romsey Remount DepotIts been a while since I’ve blogged on this site, although you can read recent blog posts from me as my commission/residency has progressed, and those from the Priestlands School students developing their own work, on the Home Lad Home site –

The Home Lad Home exhibition will take place from 1st March until 26th April at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington, see here for info on opening times and how to get there.

I’m installing my work in the gallery at the end of February after months spent researching the place and experiences of horses within World War One, visiting sites associated with the Remount Service, buying and incorporating archive imagery of horses and soldiers into artwork, and being resident at St Barbe to speak with visitors and volunteers.

Photo by Bryony Waterman, St Barbe Museum

Photo: Bryony Waterman, St Barbe Museum

As my time researching and making draws to a close, I am developing an installation for the exhibition that incorporates all the material from this time of learning, and links it together to make one piece. What I didn’t want to do was to say “Right, I’ve made all this work with Liz and the horses at Kingsettle, and at the site of the Romsey Remount Depot, and in the gallery, and in my studio, and I have developed my understanding of the capacity for connection, love and understanding between horses and people, and my awareness of the scale of horse and human loss, now I need to make the real work, the finished, framed, public work.”

To me, the work that I have made and developed as I have explored, gathered, and responded is the real work, it is the evidence of my developing understanding of the experiences of horses and men in WW1, pieced together through my mind, emotions and bodily experiences.

My time at Kingsettle, and walking the paths and fields at the site of the Romsey Remount Depot with print-outs of archive imagery, has brought me a certain distance. I can spend time with living horses in the stables, visit places where thousands of horses would have been trained and held, and see photos of the uniformed soldiers that rode them, but there will always be a distance between my experience and theirs. There will always be a disconnect. And what a gaping gulf must have existed between the experiences of both man and horse at home and at war, between the countryside of Hampshire and the war-torn, muddied, bloodied horror of the front.

So I am piecing together an installation of these fragments, a little burnt around the edges; these patchy, muddy, embodied insights into the subject of my commission, with its gaps and connections, its glimpses into lives past and places changed beyond recognition. It feels more honest and authentic than to present it as something neat and tidy, an all summed up version of a time and place that I can never really know. If you can make it along to St Barbe for the show it would be brilliant to hear your thoughts.



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