Fauld Crater

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact

Abstract

Fauld Crater (2017-2018) is a photographic project consisting of a constructed panoramic view of the crater (seven gelatin silver prints mounted on aluminium, 2018) and a three-dimensional work that imagines traces from the aftermath of the explosion (gelatin silver prints and walnut wood, 61x26x7cm, 2017).

At the entrance to the Fauld Crater site, under the headline Danger Unexploded Bombs a sign reads:
This land is private property belonging to the Ministry of Defence. The land contains unexploded bombs and in the event of an explosion, injury or death could be caused to persons on the land. In the interests of safety therefore, members of the public are warned not to enter the land in any circumstances.

A plaque on a granite stone offers the visitors to the site the following information:
At just after 1100 hours on the 27th November 1944 the largest explosion caused by conventional weapons in both the world wars took place at this spot when some 3,500 tons of high explosives accidentally blew up. A crater some 300 feet deep and approximately a quarter of a mile in diameter was blown into the North Staffordshire countryside. A total of seventy people lost their lives, with eighteen bodies never being recovered. The 21 MU RAF Fauld disaster is commemorated by this memorial which was dedicated on the 25th November 1990, some 46 years after the event. The stone, which is of fine granite, was a gift, organised by the Commandante of the Italian Air Force ...

In this work, the topography shaped by the explosion together with the desire to capture the implications of war and violence on the landscape are explored through the materiality of the photographic image. The subtle obstructions offered by inverting the photographic image or depicting differences through repetition echos photography’s relationship to memory.

The crater became a secret garden where trees are growing anew and undisturbed on the ground of a past disaster. The fence and the warning signs preserve and protect the secrecy of these trees, the crater and what might lie underneath. The explosion blew up the mine from within, raising tons of soil up in the air and flooding the area, which led to the many casualties. The protective fence was introduced much later, alongside the decision to remember and commemorate. In a conversation with people working in the active section of the mine, I learned that it was accessed in the past by visitors and that teenagers, overtaken by curiosity, still search for the hidden entrance to the ruined ammunition storage. Walking into the crater was not prohibited until the commemoration officially began.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • photographic practice
  • memory
  • landscape
  • traces of war
  • aftermath of conflict
  • practice-led research

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