DUNKIRK PHOSSILS (UK)
In 2015 I was asked to contribute a series of porcelains ‘phossils’ to a project initiated by the British artist Liz Mathews called ‘The Dunkirk Project’ for The British Library in London. Liz had used extracts from my late grandfather Basil Bonallack’s poem ‘The Retreat’ based on his experiences at Dunkirk and various texts from Virginia Woolf’s own diaries. The series is now integrated with the British Library’s online archives.
The Dunkirk Project in 2015
For this new edition of The Dunkirk Project in 2015, BG Bonallack’s grandson Charlie Bonallack, who is an artist, has made and photographed a very special commemorative collection: Dunkirk Phossils. Shown in full for the first time on a new page Dunkirk Phossils by Charlie Bonallack, these beautiful artworks are porcelain panels, each with a hand-painted image drawn from a photographic source and fired onto the porcelain at high temperatures. Some of the photos Charlie has interpreted for this series are family photographs of his grandfather in the 1940’s; others are images from the Imperial War Museum’s photographic archive. Charlie’s process imparts an extraordinary degree of intimacy to these images, at the same time as a kind of patina that evokes the age of the image, the distance of the moment eternally caught. And this is exactly what I’ve aimed to do with The Dunkirk Project – to recapture how it really was for individual people in that very particular place and time, 75 years ago.
Liz Matthews 2015