Dimensions: 80cm (W) × 80cm (D) × 60 cm (H). Total of 11 elements
Medium: shredded paper archive, glue
Photography: Chris Lee
The starting point for CANNON BALLS was a minor event last February during a site visit with the exhibition curator and fellow participating artists. There stands near St John’s entrance a crucifix, raised on a pillar with the following plaque: 'Erected by the nursing staff in honour of the patients who died in the King George Hospital HM Stationery offices Stamford Street used as a military hospital during the war.' Suddenly a fellow British artist turned to me and launched a tirade about Napoleonic wars and the suffering inflected upon the English by the French.
A quick search later established the facts. At the outbreak of WWI the War Office commandeered a warehouse in Stamford Street and Cornwall Road for use as a Red Cross military hospital, which it was from 1915 to 1917. This particular crucifix was unveiled in December 1917 by Queen Alexandra in the grounds of nearby St John Church.
Out of the blue a couple of simple ingredients (a crucifix, war, ignorance and chauvinism) together formed into an arrow meant to wound, like an automatic response to a particular set of perceptions. Unchecked and not understood a little stream of animosity was released. If we multiplied this micro emission of hostility by the number of times everyone daily feels an aggressive impulse, and then again by millions of people experiencing a similar itch, we would obtain a deeply alarming insight into our society. I am interested in the reverse. If everyone paid attention and held back such nano-whims, maybe then consideration and kindness may envelop and nurture all of us.
CANNON BALLS presents a series of spheres of a size identical to Napoleonic cannon balls in the battle of Waterloo to illustrate aggression and objectification of human life. The material, however, is harvested from a shredded family archive and embodies legacy and inter-generational baggage. ‘Transforming Minds’ does not take place on battlegrounds but right here, right now, at an individual level. Even in the grounds of St John Church. Especially in front of this memorial.