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EXHIBITION: Sites of Memory - Chris Harrison

12 October 2018

Chris Harrison Sites Memory 008

© Chris Harrison

Over 30 photographs from AOP Member Chris Harrison are on show at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 3 December.  Sites of Memory is an on-going project to document war memorials across Europe.

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©Chris Harrison.  Barr Beacon, Beacon Way, Walsall, West Midlands, England. Barr Beacon war memorial, stands atop Beacon Hill. Looking out over Walsall and the wider west midlands it is now a nature reserve having been presented to the people of Walsall in 1919 by Colonel J. H. Wilkinson of the Staffordshire Volunteers.


The photographs on display include memorials in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Germany.  Also featured are photographs of war memorials in and around Wolverhampton, specially commissioned for this exhibition.

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©Chris Harrison. Am Käswasen, Diespeck, Bavaria, Germany. Diespeck in Bayern is by the side of a road about 1 mile outside of town and is a Jewish Cemetery. The inscription of the war memorial reads “the Jewish congregation in loyal memory of their sons, who were killed for their fatherland /1914-1918”, around it in common with other German war memorials are eleven headstones with the names and ranks of the fallen who are buried in foreign lands. 


The first memorial I ever saw was at the top of my street. It was overgrown and neglected and most of the names had faded away. Even as a child I was fascinated by this tangible connection to the past. Hepburn, Dixon and Dodds; grandfathers of school friends, neighbours, people familiar and close, their names slowly dissolving in the acid rain from the local factories. Later, I started to think about history from a local perspective. For me, photography is about time rather than light, I am not seeking the decisive moment. These memorials are representative of thousands of decisive moments of which I have no comprehension. 

I first showed the work “Sites of Memory” at the Imperial War Museum. The exhibition went 
on to be shown at various international galleries and museums including Tate Britain as part of “How we are: 150 years of photographing Britain”. While I continue to photograph in Britain, the work has now expanded to Germany to further explore our history and identity, and negotiate the collective European consciousness. To this end, I plan to travel to Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Belgium and Russia (Kaliningrad) to photograph memorials from within the borders of Germany as they were in 1914.

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©Chris Harrison. Hermsdorfer Straße, Jannowitz, Brandenburg, Germany.  Jannowitz memorial sits in an old church yard and consists of a granite block with the list of the names of the fallen from World War 1 on a plaque, directly below is a second much larger list of the men from Jannowitz who died in the Second World War. The whole thing actually sits atop a mass grave of soldiers commemorated on a second memorial 3 meters away, to the men killed defending the actual village in 1945.


Exhibition runs until 3 December.


View more about the project here

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