Folkestone Harbour - 29th September 2014
Film and Editing: Sandra Djukic
Second Camera Jonathan Pigram
The Folkestone performance of Resting Place was all about the horizon and was the third instalment.
It was about the opening up of Clarice Spratling’s horizon as she left on a boat from Folkestone to France. It was about the horizon that is framed by the bell on the seafront, where the outline of the French coast only becomes a reality when the sight is clear — just as those who went to war only seldom had moments of clarity about what they would face there. And it is about the horizon as a space where earth and heaven meet, where the dead touch the living.
The movement for this performance took place on the fine line in between, a line that Clarice would have navigated constantly as she tended to the soldiers who may or may not cross over to the other side into death.
We have kept the movements simple and clean, an echo of the efficient movements of a hospital ward and the lifeline of military order, which gave a sense of normality, holding chaos at bay in the camps of France.
Carrier of our DNA, witness to our sleeping moments, our dreams and nightmares, our waking worries, procreation, birth and death. A seemingly insignificant piece of cloth that we give little thought to, other than perhaps for its aesthetic appearance.
During the First World War thousands of pillowcases were used and Cole’s research has revealed
Between October and November 1914: 3,000 pillowcases were issued by the Army.
By October 1917 this number had increased to 37,672
Pillowcases were commandeered and used by the German army to make sandbags for their trenches.
A discussion with Medical Historian Dr Ruth Richardson revealed that soldiers often cried out for their mother’s in their last living moments, their last thoughts not of war, but of home and the idea of the domestic pillowcase, hand embroidered by a wife or mother representing those thoughts.
Using research based on vintage hand embroidered pillowcases Dawn Cole explores the contradictions between the peaceful, pristine cemetery and the violence that led to the need for them; the loss of the individual through the stark, identical grave stones and the yearning experienced by a nation at the inability to bring home their loved ones and bury them.
The pages of this young woman diary are etched on empty hand embroidered embellished pillowcases.
As the project continues on its journey the pillowcases will gradually be laid out and their story revealed.
The location and the movement of Niamh across the near horizon for the third performance held a cinematic quality for artist and performance documenter, Jonathan Pigram. In this short silent piece, Jonathan captures the vastness the live audience experienced. The loops could represent the repetitive nature of war or the heading into the unknown only to find oneself back where first begun. There is a beauty within the bleakness and a show of determination to get on with things.
This silent film is best experienced on full screen.