Crash Site

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


This project includes a series of c-prints, gelatin silver prints and photo-etchings, which emerged from the search for a crash site.
During the Second World War an American bomber that intended to land in Devon, had to divert its route due to heavy fog. The plane was forced to make its way north until the weather cleared for landing. However, it ran out of fuel not far from Manchester which made the crew abandon the plane and leave it to crash on the moors. I came across this information when I was an artist in residence at neo studios in Bolton.

Remnants from the crash were found by a passer-by who identified live ammunition on site. Due to the rough conditions on the moors, and with no good roads for access of vehicles, the fire brigade decided it was not worth salvaging the plane and buried the remains immediately after the safe destruction of the live ammunition. The story holds no dramatic details; there was no loss of human lives, only an unaccounted-for plane that was not unusual during the war. In many ways, this was a non-event, an incident in the form of an unmarked site, buried and forgotten. The plane, I was told, should be found on an area marked as Broken Ground. My search, just a few months after the discovery and burial of the remains, was motivated by the remote hope of finding the unmarked crash site.

Crash site no. 1, 2, 3 are my first encounters with possible signs of the crash site. Scouting the broken ground yielded each mark significant in my search. The experience of the search itself merged the prior knowledge of the plane and the sight of the landscape. The prints made from the search represent the wish to superimpose the landscape onto the knowledge of what happened and what is buried underneath. The landscape was breath-taking, stunning and frightening. The ground, soft and black, was collapsing with every step I took. I photographed in black and white to highlight the patches of black soil marked by a thin layer of white powder, in the midst of the vivid green and magenta vegetation that overtook the area. To avoid going back through the slippery slopes of our journey, we took the path leading to the quarry. It was only then that we stumbled upon the remains of the plane, just a few tiny bits that must have been missed by the fire brigade, or perhaps intentionally left there to mark the ground.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • photographic practice
  • printmaking
  • landscape
  • crash-site
  • practice-led research
  • Broken Ground

    Ariel, D., 6 Nov 2014

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

    Open Access
  • Sites of Unlearning: Encountering Perforated Ground

    Author: Ariel, D., 28 Jul 2018

    Supervisor: Parker, J. (External person) (Supervisor), Beasley-Murray, T. (External person) (Supervisor), Volley, J. (External person) (Supervisor) & Pickering, S. (External person) (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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