“On Her Their Lives Depend” is a body of work based around an inherited archive of postcards and letters from the First World War. This work evolved through an explorative research process into the letters, the origin of them and the family history. The aim for this work was to explore the importance that this personal form of communication held during one particular time of conflict, how this can effect the family today and how the audience can relate to this work by thinking about their own family histories during times of conflict.
“On Her Their Lives Depend” uses the family as the subject because of the direct affect these letters and postcards have. Through looking at this archive and through conversations with the family members involved some questions arose, what would have happened if this communication hadn’t continued? Would we still be here today? Could it have changed the family as it stands now? These interesting and pivotal questions led to using the matriarchal line of the family from youngest generation to oldest, with daughter, mother and grandmother as the focus for this exploration and project.
The images show sections of the postcards and letters projected on to the faces. Using this technique took a few attempts to get right and was quite difficult to find sections of the postcards that fitted well. By projecting the letters and postcards on to the faces and taking the photographs closer up on just sections of the skin it not only shows the finer details of the skin but also shows the pixels of the images relating to the sewn nature of the silk embroidered postcards and how delicate they are. When taking the self-portraits a remote shutter release and a sit in model were used to make decisions on the composition of the image and how to fit the sections of the postcards on to the face in the most effective way. This was quite difficult and took a lot longer than the other two shoots as it was the first shoot using this technique.
The instillation layout of “On Her Their Lives Depend” is influenced by museum displays. The three images are placed in glass frames with a thin metal edging so not to distract from the subjects, they are 8×10 inches in size to encourage the audience to step forward and look a little closer to see all the detail of the face and the projected postcard. Underneath in a display cabinet are the album where the postcards were found, the envelope they were stored in and the original postcards that have been projected, and photographed above, this cabinet protects these personal precious artefacts and again encourages the audience to take a more detailed look at these artefacts and to show the journey of discovery that took place.
Overall this project relates to the histories that most families have and allows them to think further about the experiences they have had personally during conflict.