Garden of Shadows


Headland, Sculpture on the Gulf, January-February 2015, Waiheke island, New Zealand.

This artwork is a personal statement, to focus on survivors from the Great War and ‘the mantle’ the broken men carried forever. The Artwork addresses the ‘everlasting shadow’ over the families of the damaged soldiers, who were survived, injured, decorated and returned home but who carried their horror forever from the Western Front battles of Messines, Arras, the Somme and Passchendaele. In creating this artwork, as the child of a soldier who survived the First World War I research ‘the unspoken world’ of experiences encountered by First World War survivors and their families. Garden of Shadows became an installation to address memory and forgetting. 

The double-sided tent-form alludes to summer games played in a child’s makeshift tent. The lacy ‘mantle’, the canopy of holes is a frail and fragmented shelter, referring to whispered stories, wishes and a glimpse of the unspoken. The perforated form creates optical distortions and complex patterns. Inside the tent, the carpet of lead is embossed with phrases, selected from writings by World War 1 poets, and T. S. Eliot. Using metal punches in a Typewriter font, I embossed letters into the soft lead sheet, to form the quotations referring to loss.

The twelve pegs along either side of the Tent edge represent the months of each year. The polished and reflective ball makes reference to a heavy metal ball of layered lead we played with as children. ‘No child or future generation will ever know what this was like… When it is over we will go quietly about our business and we will not tell them. We will talk and sleep and go about our business like human beings. We will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us.’  (Birdsong: Sebastian Faulks.)

Dimensions: Tent-Height 2.4m x Width 2 metres x length 4 metres. Lead Blanket, 1.5mm thick x Width 1800mm x Length 4m. 

Materials: Embossed lead, and Marine Grade 316 stainless steel.