Yesterday, I went back to Pontesbury to photograph objects for the History Makers project. I am thoroughly enjoying this element of the project partly for the cups of coffee and the lovely people I am meeting. However, I am enjoying it mostly for the stories and the emotional impact these objects are having on me as I hear about the stories associated with them, many of them personal to the current owner of the object.
The first person I visited yesterday had lots of documents and letters belonging to his father who had fought in the First World War. Out of all of his memorabilia, there was one particular letter that effected me the most. The letter had been very well persevered and didn’t appear to be 100 years old to me. It was only slightly browned and the paper was remarkably intact. The writing was clear, and the words in it read almost ‘loud’ in my head. It was a letter to ‘Clive’.
The letter reads: ‘…the last six days we have had to take our time in the trenches Clive it is like hell upon earth please excuse my expression but it is the only fit one I think, and yet one goes through it alright for after a while you get used to all the things that seem so strange to you at first; the shells bursting around you, the rifle shot passing over your head, the machine guns rattling…’
It goes on ‘…every so often when perhaps they see something to fire at and other things such as bombs that are thrown from trench mortars. Well I am still alright and in the pink, also billy is too. How are you all going on down home.’
So in this case, the words as well as the object and the story of the object effected me deeply. It was as if without the words the object itself wouldn’t have been enough.
I am very interested in the power of words to create an image (which was the rationale behind the work of last year’s winner of the Jerwood Drawing Prize, Alison Carlier). Here, she has created an audio ‘drawing’ based on description. It is a ‘drawing’ of an old Roman pot, created through sound. This is a kind of synaesthesia.
Words can be used to ‘describe’ an object or an experience just as well as lines and colour. This might be an interesting area I can explore with this project.