My first focus is to look at the site of the war hospital as this is the area that others have interacted most with, leaving wreaths and dedications in the trees. Part of the entrance to the old hospital is marked with a plaque, the old flagpole base still remaining and covered in moss. The footings of the hospital ‘huts’ are overgrown in most places, with the end boundary being where most seem to dedicate wreaths to loved ones.
On trying to uncover more information about the hospital I found that it mainly treated shellshocked soldiers, who had to overhear distant shots from the firing ranges on Cannock Chase while they were ‘recovering’. This led me to look at the concept of healing, using the visual appearance of bandages in the trees that now inhabit the site:
It is interesting that the work that I left in the trees was taken away, and some was left. Drawings that I left folded and hidden in different parts of the footings were unfolded but then put back. I find it interesting how the public interact with art that is left in places unexpected; not being present when people see what is there leads to a consideration of whether the drawings were of something different would they have been taken; or because of the place being about leaving mementos, perhaps not?
What I would like to explore is putting more permanent pieces of art into the site that encourage interaction and a reflection on what the area was used for, a place of healing.The next part of my work at the site is to look more closely at the ‘memorial’ aspect of leaving wreaths and dedications.
I would like to explore the treatment of shellshock as part of the work, as well as refer back to my experiments in concrete done for a previous project……watch this space.