(Above) Nicholas Hedges, Post Cards Front and Back. © the artist
Exhibition: Nicholas Hedges, Mine the Mountain, North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, until June 26 2010
The battlefields of Europe and the so-called dark tourist sites of former concentration camps have long attracted the attention of artists seeking to make sense - and art - from the suffering of the past.
Now a new exhibition at the North Wall Art Gallery in Oxford adds to this tradition by taking a very personal view of these sites of memory, trauma and mourning.
Nicholas Hedges' photographic installations and paintings are concerned with history- not as a series of distant events, but as a collection of encounters and dialogues between the past and the present that are very much a part of now.
(Above) Nicholas Hedges, Correspondence (Detail). © the artist
The resulting photographic assemblages are drawn form experiences at sites ranging from the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Belzec and Majdanek to the First World War battlefields of Ypres and Verdun.
Built up of collected images, photographs and writings, the works fuse family history, memories and the private histories of unknown individuals.
"What their component images say, echoes my attempt to find the individual so often subsumed, both in unimaginable numbers and the history which we read in books or know through film and television," says Hedges.
(Above) Nicholas Hedges, A Well Staring at the Sky
"As a descendent of tailors and miners, it is perhaps appropriate that my work is concerned with lines and traces, and the weave and texture of pathways taken by people throughout their lives over the course of history."
The exploration of his own family history has played a vital role in the work, exploring the places where they were born, where they lived and died, and in his own words, the "roads which they have walked."