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!

Preparing to make new art work

folkestone-gotha-bomber-air-raid-25th-may-1917-tontine-streetI’m about to start on a new body of work and it’s going to take a lot of time.  My drawings take for ever to do.  It’s not just that the drawings that take a long time, it’s also that the work requires a lot of preparation and research even before making a mark.  A lot of the time my research doesn’t bare fruit as finished works of art (n fact, the majority of my work ends up as unfinished and abandoned) but this is how it is for me and this is my way of working: so be it.  I work within my means and so this will progress slowly as time and money allow.  I sometimes return to subjects after long periods of time of not working on them.  The May 1917 air raid (the so-called ‘Great Folkestone Air Raid’) is something I’ve repeatedly returned to and which I imagine I shall continue to return to for years to come.

Here are some images of work which has already seen the light of the gallery space and which I hope will be given more opportunities to be seen in exhibitions in the future.

This piece is called: “They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…”  The title comes from words of an eye witness account of seeing the German bombers high up in the early evening sun light and remembering that they looked like silver birds.  It was selected for The 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize and it has also been shown in other exhibitions, including: ‘Telling Stories: Hastings’ (in Margate as an off-shoot of an exhibition at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery curated by the writer and artist Cathryn Kemp); East Kent Artists’ Open Houses; ‘Remembering: We Forget’ (The Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury), curated by Hazel Stone; and at the Pie Factory gallery space in Margate.

I hope this work will be shown in Folkestone one day.

Click on ‘Folkestone’ on the list of categories to see more.

If anyone out there happens to have any family stories connected with the air raid I would love to hear from you!

Go to the ‘about me’ section of this blog to find links to social media and my email address.  You can also write a comment at the bottom of this post.

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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.

Tontine Street drawing

“They looked like silver birds.  The sun was shining on them…” is a drawing about the victims of a bomb which exploded next to a queue of people outside of Stokes Bros greengrocers during The Great Folkestone Air Raid of 25th May 1917.  It consists of sixty-eight gesso panels containing transcriptions of personal memories, the details of each of the people who were killed and silverpoint drawings of some of the individuals who died.  The title comes from an eye witness account of the event and refers to the sight of the German ‘Gotha’ bombers high up in the early evening sun light just moments before the bomb was dropped.  I’ve been working on this subject, off and on, for a few years.  I created an earlier version of it for my solo exhibition at Marine Studios in Margate last year.

 

Click on the images for a closer look at these drawings and scroll up and down the ‘Home Page’ or the ‘Tontine Street Drawings’ page to find more about this work.  You can also see it on ‘youtube’ by searching for ‘Roy Eastland Drawing’.