PARTISANS


A few years ago in Bologna in Italy I came across a monument to the partisans from WW2. It consisted of hundreds of tiny photographed faces of the Anti Fascists, and I was struck by how these ordinary looking people had done such extraordinarily courageous things in their resistance to Fascism, and at huge risk to themselves and their families. Death by hanging or by the bullet was the usual swift response if caught committing acts of sabotage, secreting Jewish deportees or recognised saboteurs, and yet these laws were violated bravely on a daily basis.

I photographed the monument not knowing exactly how I would use it in my artwork, but have recently made collaged pieces that involve painting and the use of crude photo transfers with varnish.

To de-personalise the images of very real people from that time, but presuming most of them to be deceased, I turned them into negatives. Some are direct negatives of the photos and others negatives of crudely made gesso paintings of photos. I liked the mix and blurring between the real and the unreal, much like the qualities of memory.

The human spirit may remain steadfast, but political geographies dissolve and reform. I hope that these artworks reflect that contrast between the firmness of human resolve and the transience of borders here represented by flags.

I was born in the early 50s and so it was still recent enough for talk of the War to be commonplace amongst adults. That being the case, their conversations became part of my memory too, or perhaps more accurately, I have memories of my past imaginings, and the pictures conjured up in my young mind by their reminiscences.

These works have a nostalgic element and hopefully are an aesthetic celebration of the universality of the human spirit that can, when required, transform from the ordinary into the extraordinary and usually in the direst of circumstances.