Letters Home, 2014

Letters Home was an installation across both the Gun & Spitroast and Horsmonden Social Club. The inspiration for the project began with the unique First World War photographic memorial housed within the social club. I was commissioned by a curatorial collective Hoodwink, part of Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery engagement within local communities.

As part of my project I contacted local families who had relatives connected with the memorial as well as larger archives such as the Imperial War Museum, National Archives and the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum, in particular looking for any letters, postcards or diary entries from that period and related regiments.

My idea was to reflect the everyday lives for so many young men going to war, both the drab and damp conditions in the trenches, but also the food, their hopes and ultimately their sacrifice.

I laser etched exerts from letters, poems and postcards onto pint and wine glasses that will be served to customers and visitors on a daily basis. At first invisible once filled with liquid the texts become more visible. The surface of the glass acting like a form of braille, it is present whether you read it at first or not.

These almost silent voices are both there and not there perhaps echoing their silent faces in the memorial and giving an insight into their private thoughts and messages to loved ones.

Over conversation I hoped the texts will act as prompts to reflect on the lives now gone, to share our memories and stories with each other from that period and beyond.

The beer mats have an image from a WW1 embroidery, acting as a reminder and prompt from this time and entries from a diary with items issued to soldiers.  There are also some wall-based pieces across both venues that use WW1 embroideries and artifacts combined with my own drawings and collages.

A number of events were held including an open day with a local historian, a valuer and myself at Horsmonden social club and invited local residents to share their objects, memories and personal stories in relation to the First World War and beyond. Together we met over 100 residents who shared their stories and were engaged in the project.