We were initially taken with the idea of recording the stories associated with the objects and ephemera in the Museum but we were also really interested in the untold stories that the Museum archivist’s had told us. The little details of the lives of the soldiers but also the families and that of Sandwich it’s self during the war.
During our initial research we become more fascinated by the development of Richborough Port, the secret port of Sandwich and the role it played in the War. Its location made Richborough unique compared to other ports along the Kent coastline at the time. The Port was able to transport soldiers, ammunition, tanks, horses, rations and fuel somewhat undetected.
This had a really bearing on Sandwich as the Port was top secret for most of the war and as we have found there are very few images of Sandwich during this period due to the Secrets Act, this we found interesting. We also know that even the population living in Sandwich were not completely aware of what was happening along the River Stour in close proximity even though the port was huge.
As the project developed we wanted to illustrate not only the stories and lives of the soldiers from Sandwich that are commemorated on the Museums time line wall but also the story of life back in Sandwich and that of the Secret Port. Putting into context what was happening at the same time in the different theatres of war compared to life back at home.
The book was created through archived photos from the museums collection as well as our paintings and drawings depicting the horrors in France and Belgium to the contrast of Idyllic Sandwich created through a printmaking process overlaying the contrasting images. We perceive the book to be an insight to the lives, stories and pain of the war to a new audience.
The finished book, which measures 7 metres by 80 cm and is made of 350gsm paper and silk screen ply wood. The book is an illustrated depiction telling the narrative of the key stages of WW1 following the journey of specific soldiers from the Buffs Regiment. Through extensive research and experimentation in print processes, we combined photographic references of the horror of war alongside drawings and mark making to create compositional structures of over laying images to create a time line. Graphic motifs and images occur throughout expressing the futility of the repeating battles and the war itself. A smaller hand made book has been made directly from the larger book which will be displayed at Sandwich Museum. Through the prints we have generated we have also created a box set and a newspaper.
Rob McDonald & Tania McCormack