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Exhibition – The Last Stand // Marc Wilson - Aberdeen's Centre for Contemporary Art. Gallery exhibitions, printmaking, photography, film & video, digital media

19 Dec 14

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Exhibition – The Last Stand // Marc Wilson

29 March - 10 May, 2014

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012 © Marc Wilson

29 March – 10 May 2014

Opening Friday 28 March, 6 – 8pm. All welcome. sponsored by anCnoc.

The Last Stand – Northern Europe.

A visual marker of the shadows of conflict.

“Whilst Wilson utilises the language of the landscape photograph, The Last Stand is far removed from the genre in the traditional sense, firmly placing him within a small group of contemporary photographers whose work — whilst landscape in nature — has more in common with that of the documentary photographer... The silent beauty of Wilson’s landscape photographs — that bare witness to greatest conflict of the modern age and the passing of time — is that they do not try to say more than they know; but form a place where the viewer can reflect and contemplate upon the fruitless turmoil of war and the selfless sacrifice of so many, who fought against the threaten and shadow of oppression that hung high above Europe.”

Wayne Ford (former art director of The Observer’s award winning colour magazine & Design Director of Haymarket Business Media)

Since 2010 Marc Wilson has been photographing the images that make up The Last Stand. This piece of work aims to reflect the histories and stories military conflict and the memories held in the landscape itself.

So far 53 of the 80 images in the series have been photographed. The body of work is documenting some of the physical remnants of the Second World War on the coastlines of the British Isles and northern Europe, focusing on military defence structures that remain and their place in the shifting landscape that surrounds them. Many of these locations are no longer in sight, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

Over these three years Marc has so far travelled over 15,000 miles to 109 locations to capture these images along the costlines of the UK, The Channel Islands, Northern France and Belgium.

With further funding now in place he has recently spent 8 days photographing in Orkney and Shetland and is soon to visit the Western coast of France down to the Spanish border, Denmark, and Norway.

In Autumn 2014 a book of the work is being published by Triplekite. The current set of work has won an award at The Terry O’Neill awards and a selection of prints has been on show at The Anise Gallery, London, before moving to The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds and then to Aberdeen. The work has also been featured on BBC online, TV and Radio and The Guardian. These objects and zones of defence serve as ‘a visual marker to the shadows of conflict’ (Wayne Ford) and are as such an important part of the fabric of our recent histories and memories.

Some remain proud and strong, some are gently decaying. Many now lie prone beneath the cliffs where they once stood. Through the effects of the passing years, all have become part of the fabric of the changing landscape that surrounds them.

Over the intervening years some of these ‘markers’ have been lost to the passage of time and shifting sands. Very recently on the Northern coast of France, at Wissant, the vast wartime defences were pulled apart and removed by the authorities. Marc was lucky to have photographed these defences last year but today there is nothing but the sand and tides in this place. No physical reminder of the past remains.

Yet at the same time in late 2013 some defences along the coast of the UK have re-emerged from the dunes after an extreme storm. These defences, although often submerged by waters or subsumed by sands are never really lost to us.

Marc sees every landscape as a witness to war and the passing time, each with a story to tell, whether it is one of unfulfilled defiance or one of tragedy.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen will show a selection of 23 images from the series, including those from locations in Scotland, The Northern Isles, Northern France and England.

"Even though the work has been photographed in nine different countries in Northern Europe, each coastline and its histories are as important as the next, so to be able to show the work at a venue close to the locations is very important. For me Peacock Visual Arts is therefore an ideal venue both for this reason and also due its track record of past shows.” Marc Wilson.

Click here for a map of locations included in the exhibition selection.