|Public and 3D works|
|You Are Here; In Medias Res|
|Incomplete Open Tower|
|The Glorious Twelfth|
July and September 1940 the Britain was under direct threat of a coastal
invasion by Nazi Germany, luckily the enemy force was seen of by the RAF
during The Battle of Britain. This year is 70th anniversary of
Operation Sealion, which, if it had been successful would have seen the destruction
of much of the southeast coast of England, with the immediate coastal towns
acting as sacrificial lambs, slowing down the invading force in order to
prevent the inevitable attack of London.
As a commemoration of this I built a wall of sandcastles along the south coast between the months of July and September (the 17th of September being the official date the plan was called off by Hitler). The sandcastles were made in the shape of the now derelict WWII pillboxes, which are scattered around the countryside: a continual reminder of the closest threat our island came to invasion since 1066.
The ever present pillboxes remind us of a time when our Island nation was under direct threat from a discernable foreign force. They now stand abandoned whilst seventy years later we face a multitude of threats from a less discernable force. The “other” is no longer dressed in a convenient bad guy uniform of black / grey and skull and crossbones. The “other” now either lives among us, is indiscernible as friend or foe, or it’s the very foundation of our natural world. No longer can we fight back the ocean with castles made of sand and stone or aim gun emplacements towards a foreign land. We stand like the fable of King Canut unable to stop the tide simply by commanding it.
Ironically the pillbox not only points outwards towards the sea (or road or canals) but also points inwards towards our cities and fields and are open access to any who may enter.
The building of sandcastles is generally seen as a carefree and childish pass time whilst we relax on holiday. But I’m fascinated by the inherant tension played out between the inoccent play of children and the agressive territorialism; of the building of forts, castles, moats and the topping off with a nations flag. Each child, or family group building a stronger and better defence against the ever threatening ocean or a neighbouring family. Dads become children as they re-live their childhood days on the beach and memories of playing war whilst the children transform into adults, embroiled in a bitter (albeit fictional) struggle of life and death.
Thanks to Helen Morse Palmer and Grant Kay for there help.