A unique portrait of the First World War battlefields, Fields of Battle Lands of Peace 1418 is a powerful photographic exhibition by Mike St Maur Sheil is now on at the Old Fire Station Gallery, which tells of the healed scars of the war through our only living witness, the battlefields themselves. Once places of devastating violence, we now see landscapes of great beauty, testament to peace and remembrance. Over time, nature has transformed the battlefields, creating a link between modern times and the personal dramas those landscapes now hide.
He comments as follows: “It was whilst on a visit to Dunkirk with my father, who had fought there in WWII, that I first became aware of the close attention that soldiers pay to the ground which surrounds them and the way in which their vision of a battlefield extends not to miles but just the yards, even feet, which they can survey without themselves being seen. It was my friend, the historian, Richard Holmes, who shaped this further by insisting that my pictures should not just be an emotional response to a battlefield where men had died, but should seek to tell the history, the stories of the men who fought there.”
The exhibition has been organised by the Henley and Peppard Royal British Legion branch and is just one of the Remembrance events this year.
Opening hours for the exhibition are:
Friday 4 November 9 am to 5 pm
Saturday 5 November 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 6 November 10 am to 5 pm
Friday 11 November 9 am to 5 pm
Saturday 12 November 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 13 November 10 am to 5 pm
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Blaker, a former regular army officer in the Royal Green Jackets and a Patron and former President of the Henley and Peppard Branch of the Royal British Legion and his wife Mrs Hiltegund Blaker, originating from the Black Forest area of Germany (pictured above) helped out by manning the exhibition last Saturday. Peter said, “It’s a fascinating exhibition with beautiful photographs and interesting explanatory texts.”