Tuesday, 30 June 2009

a Walkerloo near you...

Over the summer I'm taking my pictures on campaign. The first engagement was at the 2009 re-enactment of Waterloo. The Toy soldiers equitted themselves admirably and the YouWalkerloo booths proved very popular. I shot a little video in the quieter moments... But I was otherwise fully involved explaining the stories behind the paintings and demonstrating how I intended hands and heads to be placed within them. One very little boy engaged with the painting using his toy sword... an understandible response although I did quickly and carefully intervene.

During the summer I'll be doing several events including:

Last weekend I presented the Battle of Walkerloo in a small town called Miélan where a Napoleonic bivouac had been organised, alas it was a little quiet. I deployed YouWalkerloo in a new way. As well as the toy soldier battle, using my camera and a portable photo printer I offered to take people's photo inside my paintings, I mounted the printed photo in a 'frame card' which included a brief explanation of the paintings and the Battle Of Walkerloo. The framed picture cost €5.

This was the first time I'd presented 'Walkerloo' to a French audience in France. Most people read 'Waterloo' on seeing it... sometimes they were a little hostile to an object which seemed to celebrate a national defeat. I explained my creation was the battle of Walkerloo which is not a French defeat but a series of pictures which as a game could in fact be 'played' as a French victory... hmmmm. I'm British and conversely the word Waterloo has some immediate self congratulatory nationalistic emotions attached... as for 'Walkerloo' it's a work in progress and can make me feel very proud, defensive, worried and excited. What does it do for you?

YouWalkerloo2 involes two people partaking in three characters. One is an Ensign holding the Colours, another a stout infantryman and another a recently decapitated bugler. I created the composition after reading about an incident said to have happened at the battle of Waterloo. I've since found a memoire in which it was described -

“...we halted and formed square in the middle of the plain. As we were performing this movement, a bugler of the 51st, who had been out with skirmishers, and had mistaken our square for his own, exclaimed, ‘Here I am again, safe enough...’ The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when a round shot took off his head and spattered the whole battalion with his brains, the colours and the. ensigns in charge of them coming in for an extra share. One of them, Charles Fraser, a fine gentleman in speech and manner, raised a laugh by drawling out, “How extremely disgusting!...”

An extract from 'Fifty Years Of My Life' George Thomas Keppel, Earl of Ablemarle 1799-1891 Ch.7 p.128 'A Narrow Escape'

I tell the story of the painting before I take the photos and try to express something of the excitement, glee, tragedy, horror, disgust, comedy and history that went into the creation of the paintings. We tend to smile when posing for photographs... 'say cheese...' and I also hope people will be happy with the purchase of their picture because I charge them €5. Thanks to anyone who takes part!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Walkerloo Street.

The stencil artist Artiste-ouvrier has made pictures involving walkerloo soldiers. His stencils are particularly colourful and intricate. He's titled this work 'walkerloo street'. I found these photos of pictures he's made on google. He's been working with another stencil artist called 'War', Wars' stencil is the child spray painting. My favourite so far is the cuirassier on concrete. Urban Empire style-ee?... 'concrete soldiers'... I like the material contrast with paper soldiers. The Battle of Walkerloo opens a new front.