HiInternet is very weak on camp site so am just twitting my trip and writing a full blog of each day on my return.
Check out what I am doing on my Twitter - Brett Killington
About ground today was stinking hot!!
The results from yesterday were fantastic and they were very happy with them. The Director of the Caverne Anne has been really helpful and has shown me the location of two large underground sites that are not locked up and access is available all the time. They are both very big sites with interesting graffiti in them. I have attached images of their entrances along with an old photo of what one of them was like during the war. Anne has also agreed to help get me into at least another three sites that are not available to the public. One in particular sounds amazing and it has fantastic carved objects and inscriptions from Germans, French, American and Irish.
They were so helpful and this has been a major new development to my work.
In July I will mainly be working here.
At end of day headed for Arras to be ready for my meeting tomorrow with Alain the Archaeologist that discovered the Quarries in Arras.
Above ground today was wet.
Went to the Caverne du Dragon today. I was taken around and shown where all the inscriptions were. This is a very interesting as it is on the Chemin Des Dames and at different times was occupied by the Germans and the French and some times both at the same time. This was my first opportunity to work with German text which, was very exciting. All the text was from German Officers leaving instructions for the men. It was important to make a good impression with my work as there is a lot of other underground locations in this area. I spent about three hours down there and got some interesting images.
Images are of instructions left by German Officer for his troops.
Above ground today was wet.
Hi Had a very quite day today and just did some paper work in the morning.
Went and picked up my pin-hole cameras in the afternoon. Spent a little bit of time taking a few digital reference images. They use special lighting near the Champange that is really a warm orange which you can see in the attached images. Most are of the space however, there is some writing and images on the wall and I have attached one of them.
These tunnels where used a lot in the war and I am hoping to come back to document more of the inscriptions and drawings on the walls.
Tomorrow I am under ground again at Caverne du Dragon which I am really looking forward too.
Above ground today was cold.
Hi Left Verdun and headed to Reims. On the way stopped off again in the Argonne Forest and found the location of “The Lost Battalion”. His is an amazing story and was pleased to find where they fought. There is a monument near the location and, on it there is a sculpture of a pigeon. A message was attached to this pigeon to advise that they where being bombed by their on guns and to please stop. This bird was shot in the breast, lost an eye and a leg but still got through. Its name was Cher Ami.
On arrival in Reims I went to the Champagne House called Ruinart and left seven pin-hole cameras underground in their tunnels to expose for 24 hours.
Digital reference images speak for themselves.
Today above ground was warm.
Hi Spent most of the day around the Argonne Forest area. First visited the Butte de Vauquois. It was an interesting area and I found a lot of tunnel entries but locked doors as normal to these areas, wanted to stay above ground today anyway! What is really interesting about this area as it still has the remains of trenches everywhere unlike Arras the main area of my work.
I visited the main American cemetery where, there are so many crosses. Looked at Cote 304 and then walked for hours in the Cumieres-le-Mort-Homme forest which now is so peaceful but the reminders of the war are everywhere with many trench systems still visible. The old photographs on the information boards show how different is was during the conflict.
At the end of the day with time on my hands I went back into the area I visited the day before and had a look at Fort de Vaux and found a number of gun emplacements hidden in the forest.
I photographed all these places with my Hasselblad Xpan so will see the results on my return. However, attached are a couple of digital reference images. They are of examples of the many crosses placed around the area.
Today above ground was cold.
Hi Not much to say about the first day, I got up at 2-00am and arrived in Verdun at 4-30pm French time. Just a lot of driving and waiting on the ferry!
Today I visited a number of sites all above ground as my work underground will be in Reims and Arras later on in the trip. As I had time I just wanted to visit other areas of importance to the war to get a better overall view of the event. It also allowed me to work in film with my Hasselblad Xpan to explore the landscape of the war above ground. Today I visited Fort de Douaumont which must have been hell on earth to be in during the war. I also visited three villages that were totally destroyed in the conflict and never rebuilt, they were Fleury, Douamont and Bezonvaux. There was a very strange silence at these sites. The National cimetiere was hugh with a massive building housing thousands of soldiers names and the Tranchee des Baionnettes. They were both very moving. The other two sites I visited were Camp Marguerre the site of the 'Long Max Cannon' which were fantastic to photograph.
So overall a big day and tomorrow I will be exploring the Argonne Forest where the Americans and French were.
I have attached three photos as digital reference images they are from Camp Marguerre and a Tranchee des Baionnettes.
Above ground today was cold.
Very tiring day today.
Started by moving pinhole cameras at Vimy to new locations. After that headed to Bouzincourt and spent four hours underground there capturing another 240 inscriptions. Back there again all day tomorrow.
Before that we will pick up the cameras at Vimy and head to Wellington Quarries where the boys from Wellington College are visiting and they always do a Haka which will be great to document.
Above ground today was warm.
Yesterday we went to Bouzincourt and after signing our lives away we started 5 days of documenting the space under the church. There are about 42 rooms to document and after 10 rooms have already got over 200 inscriptions!
Today went up to Vimy Ridge and meet the director there called Guy who took us into no go areas to place 4 pinhole cameras for my 24hour battlefield project.
In the afternoon meet up with David from the Durant Group who gave us access to an underground space at La Maison Blanche were they are working and documenting. It was very interesting and I was allowed to take images to place on my web-site which I will do on my return.
Tomorrow we are back at Vimy to move cameras and the rest of the day we will be at Bouzincourt.
Today above ground was very warm.
We had a great day today as we spent time in Wellington as there was a two hour gap at lunch time. It was really good to spend time and we found about six more NZ names and NZE logo inscriptions.
We then went into Auckland and I documented all the NZ names again with a different digital camera. I will not be releasing any new images of my work at Arras as I do not want any more of my images in the public domain at this time.
We are going to work under Bouzincourt Church tomorrow and I will be placing images from this shoot on my blog.
Today above ground was really hot.
During my stay here this time I am also working on my other project above ground documenting the battlefields involved with the battle of Arras. We went to Bullecourt today to look at one and I have decided that over the next few days I will leave pinhole cameras exposing for 24 hours. I am not sure how it will go as it is very sunny over here!
We pop in on Wellington Quarries and caught up with Isabelle. Tomorrow during a two hour break I will look to document the Wellington Quarry as this is one of the last for me to do. After that we will spend some time exploring the other areas. I will be mapping the areas the NZ text are in and the groups of names in the different areas to see how and where they worked.
Above ground today was very sunny
This is just an up date to say we will be heading back to Arras on the 12th of this month. Look out for the daily blogs.
Hi We headed out of Arras early and arrived in Zonnebeke around lunchtime.
I am starting my second major project with the exposing of pinhole cameras for 24 hours on the battlefields in Belgium. You can see my proposal for this project on my website under WW1 Landscapes along with the new blog title that I will be doing for the rest of this trip.
We meet up with our contact at Zonnebeke Museum Lee. I told him I wanted to place cameras in and on the field in front of Berlin Wood. We went by it earlier and found the name of the farm by the field was Beecham Farm so he went with us and got permission from the farmer for us to place cameras on his field.
I loaded 4 of the film backs with Ilford HP5plus and we headed back to the Farm and placed 4 cameras facing Berlin wood. We will pick them back up late tomorrow and place them in Berlin wood.
Two images are the cameras in their boxes placed for 24 hours the other is with a pinhole camera with Direct Positive paper in it which was exposed for 8 minutes.
Above ground today was very cold.
Today started with a long drive to Riems.
When we arrived at The Pommery we went into a beautiful large building with a lovely interior. Over the last few days the entrance to our underground spaces have been a little more interesting including trying not to get to much clay on the tiles of the church we walked through.
We were taken on a private tour of the underground area where the champagne is aged. There is over 18km of tunnels so we only went into a very small area. We where given the normal tour but where told of the space on another level that was used during WW1. Riems was completely destroyed so the town’s people came to live underground in the space mentioned. It was like a small city that even included a Hospital. The tour guide did not have a key or the authority to take us there. However, they do store champagne there and workers do go into the space so it is accessable.
At the end of the tour we had a few sample tastes of champagne, which is a bit more up market than we normally get after a trip underground but we did not complain.
The next step is for me to write a proposal for us to work with them to document their WW1 space to be exhibited in time for the centenary. They have some beautiful spaces for this to be presented.
The images are from the Pommery. Lady Pommery liked the english and sold alot of champange to them hence the name of some of the spaces.
Today above ground was cold but sunny.
Hi We have had a great day. We headed towards Albert and stopped off at Thiepval to pay our respects. We where the only ones there and I took the photo that is attached. It was very beautiful and peaceful there.
After lunch we headed to our new underground location that was a real surprise. I thought we would find one small tunnel. However, it was much larger and absolutely full of graffiti. After two hours we had only scratched the surface but, we have been able to negotiate through our interrupter François the chance to come back in July for at least another 4 days. We are going to help them map out the area and document where all the images are so that relatives can come and easily find the graffiti relating to their ancestor.
This is a big new project but I feel an important one. Each time we come we develop more contacts and exciting you underground locations.
Tomorrow we head towards Reims and visit an underground space at The Pommeries a Champagne making establishment. Should be interesting.
Today above ground was cold with snow.
Hi, Today we had a great day exploring and documenting a new tunnel in an area just outside of Arras. I have been asked to keep the location a secret so I must respect this request.
It was interesting exploring a different place. The width of the tunnels is quite a lot thinner than in the Arras system. This was mainly for troop moment so there was no large spaces just thin tunnels.
The graffiti in this tunnel is just about all Canadian. All images attached are from today.
Tomorrow we are going to a new location. It is an underground space that is under a Church near Albert so not sure what we are going to find.
Will let you know tomorrow.
Above ground today was cold and it is now snowing.
Hi We arrived yesterday after an 11hour trip.
We have had quite a relaxing day and decided just to visit Rimy Ridge. We got onto one of the tours underground so it was great to be back in familiar surroundings. It made us miss our own tunnels but we are not visiting them this time.
Tomorrow we are going underground again but I have been asked to keep the location a secret however, I can confirm that there is a lot of graffiti where we are going so hope to have a few samples up tomorrow.
On the road to where we are staying we go through Dainville. The kiwi tunnellers stayed there for some time so I took a photo of the field they camped in. You can see by one of the attached images that it is quite cold today.
The other image is taken at Vimy Ridge. It is great to be back and hope to create a great new set of images.
Above ground today was very cold with some snow.
Hi This will be the last entry for this trip as we go back tomorrow.
Coming for 14 days has really allowed me to take my time and spend quite times underground. I have certainly taken less images each day of this trip then the last few visits but this has been a good thing as it has given me time to really enjoy the work.
It is hard to explain just how special this place is but it has really drawn me in and, it is much more to me then just a place to photograph.
As with every trip I would like to thank the museum staff for their support and, Garreth for his company in such a dark space.
Also very important to me is the special support from good friends and family with there comments and best wishes. And last but by no means least my wife for her support, faith and belief in me at all times.
So to end I leave with three main things. Some amazing images, a fantastic meeting with the head of the museum staff that gave me there full backing to create a series of international exhibitions of my work to promote the tunnels and a burning desire to help fund a way to get into Christchurch.
Sorry due to the weak WIFI respection tonight I cannot show any images.
My next visit is planned for February when I hope to document the British Tunnel system and Thompson’s Cave.
Above ground today was warm.
Hi Went back into Nelson and Blenheim today, all this time down there has made me feel very comfortable in the spaces. If you knew me you would know that the darkness is quite challenging to me but if you are passionate about something then sometimes you must face your fears to achieve your goals.
Today looked at documenting some of the Canadian text and objects I didn’t have. The rest of the time I looked at documenting the texture of the place by cropping into just certain walls with interesting forms and text.
The more time I am here, the more my desire to help find a way to get to Christchurch. I sure Allain knows where it is but like all things it will take quite a lot of money to get to it. I think that this is another funding project! With all the issues around Christchurch in New Zealand at the moment wouldn’t it be a positive thing to do.
Just something to think about.
My two images today show two different sides of the soldiers I think they speak for themselves.
Above ground today was dry.