Before I embarked upon the video commission for National Memory – Local Stories, the First World War felt like a distant, inaccessible dark memory lurking deep within the collective conscience. Overshadowed by the events of the Second World War, the carnage and brutality experienced by those who were engaged in the conflict seem to be so atrocious and inhumane that the thought of delving in to the subject became quite a daunting prospect. As an artist, responding to something so monstrous is challenging, and creating a piece of work that communicates the significance of the past in a way that doesn’t become clichéd or naive is a thought-provoking task.
The initial stage of the creation of my video for National Memory - Local Stories was my involvement in the project of workshops as artist in residence. Learning alongside the workshop participants from Wanstead High School, the visits to Redbridge Museum and the National Portrait Gallery were an invaluable introduction to the collections and the themes of the project. My research with Redbridge Museum’s collection and the National Portrait Gallery’s Archive allowed me to respond to selected collection objects in the realization of my film. Once fully immersed in the accounts of the First World War, I felt a cognitive shift as my perception of the subject altered. For a time I felt uncomfortable with the new knowledge I had acquired, and digesting the horrors of war became a part of the journey.
The summer has been spent drafting storyboards, scouring the countryside for suitable film locations, and assembling a team of actors and camera operators. The film shoot will take place in the muddy fields and wastelands of Yorkshire. The final film will be exhibited at the Redbridge Museum from the 11th of November 2014 - 30th May 2015 as part of the Redbridge and the First World War exhibition, and will also feature on the National Portrait Gallery’s National Memory – Local Stories microsite, www.npg.org.uk/nationalmemory.
Images: Victoria Lucas working with the participants at Redbridge Museum.
All images © National Portrait Gallery, London