Folkestone air raid memorial

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is my 2011-2012 drawing about the people who were killed by a bomb which exploded in Tontine Street, Folkestone, during the air raid of 25th May 1917.  This work was recently on display in Folkestone at a memorial event for the one hundredth anniversary of the air raid.

The 25th May 2017 was the first time it had been on show in Folkestone (this meant a lot to me and it nearly didn’t happen). Previously it had been included in the 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and was exhibited in various galleries around the country in 2013 and 2014 including galleries in London (Jerwood Space), Newcastle (Hatton Gallery), Plymouth (Plymouth Art College / Plymouth Arts Centre) and Canterbury (Sidney Cooper Gallery).  It has also been seen in exhibitions in my home town, Margate, and once again at the Sidney Cooper Gallery as part of an exhibition focusing on art and poetry about The First World War called ‘Remembering: we forget’.

Up until now this work has be seen in art galleries.  The typical ‘white cube’ style art gallery space allows the viewer to see the work in ideal conditions without other visual distractions.  It’s easier to notice the subtleties in a work of art when there is only the work of art in your line of sight.

On Thursday 25th May 2017 it was displayed in The Folkestone Methodist Church, in Sandgate Road, propped up by a couple of cushions on a table by the entrance in a narrow space between the backs of chairs and the wall beneath a bright fabric mural.  The light reflecting on it from a high, long, window made it hard to see.  If this had been an art gallery setting I wouldn’t have been happy, but on this particular day and in this particular place the important thing about its presentation was that it was sitting there in Folkestone and it was being looked at by people in Folkestone (some of whom were relatives of people in my drawing).

The event was organised by Margaret Care, a descendant of one of the people who died as a result of the Tontine Street bomb, and Martin Easdown, a local historian who has done research into and has written about the air raid and who’s book, A Glint in the Sky, was a key source of information about the air raid in the early stages of my work.

The day included an exhibition, a memorial service, an unveiling of a new memorial plaque and a walking tour.  It was a labour of love for them.  Margaret’s family have been placing flowers to remember the victims every year since 1918.  Until now the only memorial to the people who were killed in the air raid has been a modest plaque at the site of the Tontine Street explosion, next to the Brewery Tap pub (which is now a art venue for the UCA within Folkestone’s Creative Quarter).

The people who came were a mix of relatives of people who had been killed in the air raid, curious local people, local historians, people from local media, people working on Radio Four’s, ‘Home Front’ drama series (which is set in Folkestone during the First World War) and local dignitaries.  There was a constant supply of cups of tea (which is always a good thing) and I had conversations with relatives of people who had died in the air raid and I met people I had previously only corresponded with via emails, and I’m sure I missed out on conversations too.

“They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…” is part of an ongoing body of work connected with the 1917 air raid.  People who’s relatives were caught up in the air raid had contacted me, after seeing my work in exhibitions or via the internet, and they have shared their family-stories, and their fragments of stories and little, human, details which I might one day put into future work.  I have information now which I didn’t have at the time of working on this drawing; part of me feels a pull towards making new work, while another part of me wants to leave it alone now (it can be hard to focus on such a sad thing for long periods of time).

Time will tell if I work on this further but I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the story.

 

And another thing: those of you who listen to BBC Radio Four might be aware of the drama series ‘Home Front’. The series is set in Folkestone during the First World War and you might find the 25th May Afternoon Play, ‘A Lightening’, interesting (you can find it on BBC Radio Four iPlayer).  This Thursday 8th May, the editor of the series, Jessica Dromgoole, will be giving a talk about the series at the beautiful, and very, very old, St Mary’s and St Eanswythe’s Church in Folkestone.  Go to it after you’ve voted.

…and please do vote!

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The Great Folkestone Air Raid 100th anniversary.

The Great Folkestone Air Raid 25th May1917

A memorial event for victims of The Great Folkestone Air Raid of 25th May 1917 will take place in Folkestone next week.

My drawing, “They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them… ”, will be on display as part of this event which will also include a small exhibition, a memorial service, an unveiling of a memorial plaque and a walking tour.  The event has been organised by local historian, Martin Easdown, and a descendant of one of the victims, Margaret Care.  This has been a labour of love for both of them.  I’m looking forward to having my work seen in Folkestone at last (it has been shown in various galleries all over the country but never in Folkestone until now).

My drawing will be on show at The Folkestone Methodist Church on Sandgate Road (CT20 2DA) from 2pm until 5pm.  I’ll be there and so please come along and say hello if you can make it over to Folkestone.  Martin has written a book about the air raid which will be on sale there too.

If you’re someone who listens to BBC Radio 4 while you work (or whatever you do during the day) you might want to listen to the Afternoon Play that day.   ‘Home Front: A lightening’ will be broadcast at 2.15pm (and also on BBC iPlayer Radio) and is all about the 25th May 1917 air raid.

For more information about the memorial event go to: http://www.leshaigh.co.uk/folkestone/tontinememorialservice.html

For more information about my art work go to my previous posts on this blog (click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of categories) or/and go to my other social media places listed here below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/royeastlanddraw

Blog: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/i-draw

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roy-Eastland-1495390357351370/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/royeastland/

Hopefully see some of you in Folkestone next week!

ps, There happens to be an excellent, and long established, secondhand bookshop (Marrin’s Bookshop) right next door to the Sandgate Road Methodist Church – it’s well worth a look around there as well!

25th May 1917 Folkestone Air Raid

 

folkestone air raid 1917 Roy Eastland

 

folkestone air raid 1917

folkestone air raid 1917 Tontine Street bomb victims

folkestone air raid 1917 tontine street

folkestone air raid 1917  25th May 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about twenty past six on the evening of 25th May 1917, a bomb was dropped from a German, Gotha, bomber which exploded in the midst of a queue of people waiting outside of Stokes’ greengrocers in Tontine Street, Folkestone.  Scores of people were killed and injured.  It’s a very sad story but I want people to know about it partly because it is such a sad story and partly because this story is similar to all those stories we hear all of the time about people caught up in bomb explosions.  This story can stand for many, similar, stories.

Here are some images of a piece I made a few years ago.  I continue to work on this project as time and money allow.  My earliest exhibited work on this subject was shown as part of a solo show I had at Margate’s Marine Studios in 2011.  It consisted of an entire wall covered with A5 pencil drawings and text about the people caught up in the various bomb explosions across Folkestone on that day.  This led on to another piece called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…” (the title is a quote from an eye witness account referring to the sight of the German bombers high up in the evening sunlight).  This is a framed work consisting of small silverpoint portraits and handwritten text on gesso boards.  It has been exhibited in a number of places including: a gallery space on Margate pier (this was an off-shoot to the ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’, at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, curated by Cathryn Kemp); The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 (shown at The Jerwood Art Space, London, and at various galleries across the country); East Kent Open Artists Open Houses (part of the Canterbury Festival); ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury) and ‘Memory’ (The Pie Factory, Margate).  I’ve had a lot of interesting feedback from people who have seen the work at these exhibitions and I’ve also been contacted be a couple of people who have family stories connected with the event.  I dearly hope to include these stories in future work.  I hope I’ve made a respectful work of art.

I have a lot to say about this work and I’ve written more about it on previous blog posts (click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of ‘categories’ to find earlier posts).

Click on the images for a better view of them.

Roy Eastland’s memorial to the Tontine Street bombing

Here is a blog post about the ‘Remembering, We Forget: Poets, Artists and the First World War’ exhibition at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury, from last year. I didn’t post about this exhibition at the time because my laptop wasn’t letting me update this blog at the time. Just now, as I was sorting through old posts and pages, I came across it again and thought it might be of interest to some people out there.

The work referred to here is work I’ve been doing about the victims of the Tontine Street bomb explosion from ‘The Great Folkestone Air Raid’ of 25th May 1917. Andrew Palmer Lectures in Modern Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University and he specialises in poetry of the First World War.

To read his article, CLICK ON: ‘View original post’ (it’s at the bottom of this section of Andrew Palmer’s post). You can also click on ‘Folkestone’ in the list of ‘categories’ to find more about this work.

Sardonic Rat

Whole work

On 25 May, 1917, a German Gotha dropped a bomb over Folkestone. It exploded amongst a crowd of people queuing outside the Stokes Brothers’ greengrocer in Tontine Street. 71 people were killed, most of them instantly. Some died later of their wounds. This horrific event is commemorated in Roy Eastland’s work, ‘They looked like silver birds. The sun was shining on them…’, which is part of the exhibition Remembering, We Forget, at the Sidney Cooper Gallery until December 17.

The work takes its title from statements made by eye-witnesses – tragic in their naivety. It is made up of a series of 68 small panels, each one dedicated to a single victim, containing handwritten information and sometimes images, taken from newspaper reports and the remembrances of those who knew them. Eastland draws in silverpoint – that is, he scratches the word and faces onto boards prepared with gesso, a…

View original post 221 more words

Arromanches drawings (2006-2009)

mulberry 2007-2009 NORMANDY

Here are some drawings from a series of drawings about Arromanches (a seaside town in Normandy which was the location of the Mulberry Harbour, after D-Day in The Second World War). I worked on these small, mixed media (graphite, emulsion, ink and varnish), drawings between about 2006 and 2009. Their starting point was my memories of my dad’s memories of D-Day and the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches and about a few photographs and post cards of the town that he brought back with him as souvenirs.

One of the photographs was of a rough sea hitting the seafront (I presume this photograph was taken before the war) and this became a repeated point of reference for a number of drawings (I remember being told about the storm that wrecked the Mulberry harbour). The have been repeatedly re-worked and include writing as well as images. ‘Mulberry’, for example, is based on a postcard view of the town and the sea but my version includes my hand-written notes which locate various remembered details and events. As with a lot of my other work, this drawing was worked on over a long period of time and at some points in the process the words were more visible and other times the image was the focus of the piece. ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ (scroll down the home page to find an image of it) is one of the drawings that were based on the view of a wave hitting the seafront. The title comes from my memory of my dad using East Kent Bus Company ‘time slips’ to make simple, schematic, drawings of things as he explained events and views. ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ was also the title of my solo exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate.

Various drawings from this body of work have been shown at various times at various venues including: Marine Studios (Margate), Beaux Arts (Bath), Millennium (St Ives) and The Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.     

Arromanches storm (1) (graphite, ink, emulsion and varnish on card. 4.5 x 5.5 cm)

Exhibition: ‘St Ives joins West Bay’

East Kent Daily Time Slip Arromanches storm 1944

‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ is one of the series of small drawings relating to my memories of my dad’s memories of Normandy in 1944. There would always be a stock of ‘time slips’ on the mantelpiece along with ‘the biro’ (which was always there). Dad worked on the buses and ‘time slips’ were little sheets of paper printed with columns and with the words: ‘East Kent Daily Time Slip’ across the top. They were made for recording working hours on East Kent buses, but at home they were for writing notes and for drawing on. I got to know the view of Arromanches from the sea through seeing it being drawn (a straight biro-blue line for the sea; above it, another line which dipped in the middle to represent the cliffs and the town; and there was a building to the left with the pointed roofs, the water tower, something on the hill to the right, and the place to one side of the middle which had to be destroyed to make space for the tanks and trucks get through …and so on).

In common with the other drawings in this series, this drawing has been repeatedly re-worked. The central image is of a wave hitting the seafront at Arromanches. Its starting point was a tiny photograph of the storm-battered seafront which was, presumably, taken before the war. It was one of the souvenir pictures he brought back with him (along with a tiny photograph taken from the high ground to the East and a handful of pre-war postcards.

I’ve repeatedly re-drawn this picture to understand and imagine this place which I know through stories and memories of simple drawings done to show what it was like.

It will be on show, along with other, related, drawings, in: ‘St Ives joins West Bay’ at The Old Timberyard, West Bay in Dorset (from 24th May until the 8th June 2014). http://www.theoldtimberyard.com/

I’ve posted something about it on my facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl#!/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370

The Independent newspaper review of the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013

My drawing has received a nice mention in Zoe Pilger’s, Independent newspaper, review of the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013 (this has made my day!).  Here’s a link to her article: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/reviews/jerwood-drawing-prize-2013-the-winning-picture-by-svetlana-fialova-is-a-canny-but-misguided-choice-8812716.html

tontine street jerwood drawing prize 2013 roy eastland silverpoint drawing (2)jerwood drawing prize 2013 roy eastland review

Here is part of the exhibition revue (click on the link to find the whole article):

“…Overall, the exhibition is elegant and balanced, but quite conservative. The boundaries of the medium are pushed – but not too much. The huge impact of technology on drawing is neither shunned nor overhyped

There are 76 shortlisted works on display out of a total of 3,082 entries. Some are fantastic. Roy Eastland’s They looked like silver birds… (2012) is a stunning montage of those killed in the 1917 German air-raid on Folkestone. Portraits in silverpoint are accompanied by moving biographical detail. Isobel Wilson, 80, for example, “was in the queue for potatoes when the bomb exploded.” Eastland makes you search for clues so that the narrative is unfolded through the act of looking.

Bitch (2013) by Catherine Linton is another exceptional work. A recorded voice whispers an elliptical poem about dogs (“…at your feet I lay…”), while a faint pencil animation plays on a screen of yellow notepaper on the back wall of a tiny wooden cage. You have to look through the bars to see: a young woman wearing a muzzle, running. The feminist allusions are powerful and delicate at once.

Can cutting open an envelope with a scalpel be classified as drawing? Apparently so. Important, Act Now (2013) by Lindsay Connors is an envelope from the Inland Revenue on which those ominous words are printed. This is conceptualism at its best: succinct and funny without being cynical. Any of these three artists would have been deserving winners.”