Photographer Jerome Whittingham documents a unique artistic experience during Armistice weekend.
A message pops into my inbox, it’s from artist Lou Hazelwood: “Just wondering if you’d be up for documenting a performance at Spurn? We need some awesome photos. It’s to be kept quiet at mo, but will be a string quartet playing in a tunnel.”
Lou, and fellow artist Marcel Craven, were appointed artists in residence at Spurn Point national nature reserve by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Their brief, entitled ‘Conversations with Landscapes’, is to create artwork, in any format, that responds to Spurn’s changing landscape and its heritage.
Lou says: “We were really intrigued by the placement, desolation, history, timelessness, and something about Spurn that attracts conflict – this idea that people try to defend the indefensible, because Spurn moves, it’s a sandy bank and is always in movement and transition. There’s something timeless about it and that really interests me, that you could be at any point in history because at the desolate points of Spurn there’s nothing that acts as a marker, to define your sense of time and ultimately where in the historical timeline you are.”
Andy Mason, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Heritage Officer at Spurn: “We find that Spurn is not just about the wildlife, it’s about the history, it’s about its context, where it is, its remoteness, it’s evocative, it’s an evocative place.”
Rebecca Draper, musician: “It was really peaceful and calming. It was really dark. It was interesting. There was graffiti on the wall, written in the middle of the first world war. Just being in that place, it’s imbued with history. There was a particularly lewd poem on the wall, just seeing the way that soldiers kept their spirits up and stuff. It is quite, I don’t really know the word I’m looking for.”
That we were underground at such a significant location, responding to Spurn’s heritage during such a poignant weekend, created an incredible sense of remembrance, instilled with an unspoken reverence. It’s an event I’m privileged to have participated in, a photographic assignment like none other I’ve undertaken.
Lou concludes: “At some points during the rehearsals and the performances I nipped into the other underground rooms, and you just get this sense, you could hear the conversations that were continuing, and you could hear people approach, and you would imagine yourself within that space. Those sounds resonate, I think, within the present day, and within the musical scores Marcel and I have created.”
Explore more of these artist’s work here:
Learn more about Spurn on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s website:
[Jerome Whittingham, photographer – for Lou Hazelwood & Marcel Craven]