Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
On Nov 11th I will be taking part in No Man’s Land: an event organised by Platform-7 and taking place in 15 London Underground Stations. www.no-mans-land.me At this moment in time I have no idea how I will be involved as my proposal for the piece of work that would be exhibited at this event has been turned down by London Underground. But I am not alone. London Underground has rejected all of the 15 sculpture proposals! It does not matter though. All the artists involved in this project knew that there was a risk of something going wrong or that, at worst the event would not take place at all. Thankfully the last scenario looks unlikely as this event, aimed at exploring the idea of no man’s land is set to be an incredibly thought-provoking one.
The intention was that I would be exhibiting one of my pillowcases at the busker spot, Charing Cross Underground Station, Bakerloo line between 11.05am and 12 noon. The pillowcase in question I have come to think of as Clarice’s pillowcase as it is etched with the words she wrote recording the day she left home and travelled to France to play her part in WW1.
Her reluctance to go is countered by her determination to go, something that was the prevailing feeling of people going to extraordinary lengths to play their part.
The very first entry in her diary
In time of war everyone has an idea that they ought to join the Army or Navy and if they are unfortunate enough to belong to the female sex, ammunition work or nursing! Naturally every woman, girl, and even child who has anyone fighting for their country feel they absolutely must do something, definitely – to help.
These were the feelings of my two friends and myself. Each day we would ask one another ‘What should we do! Could we nurse! Yes! Would the War Office employ people that were willing, but unable to find sufficient funds for nursing abroad. Still we wondered! However, where there is a will there is a way!
I lay awake last night trying to think how I could overcome this rejection and still be a part of this event. I signed up to be a part it and I am determined to fulfill that commitment.
When I first began developing Resting Place I had an idea that I wanted to somehow send the pillowcases off on a journey; one that would replicate Clarice’s journey in some way. And so, as of this moment my proposal for no man’s land has changed.
Clarice travelled from Ramsgate to Charing X on Sept 28th 1915, the same journey I will be making, with the pillowcase, on Nov 11th (this fact was one of the main reasons for my determination to take part), this journey could mark the beginning. From here Clarice then travelled, the next day to Folkestone to board a boat for France and to no mans land.
Suppose, on arriving at Charing X, I send Clarice’s pillowcase into no man’s land?
Could I board a tube, on the Bakerloo line, and leave the pillowcase on there?
Should I leave it with a note or instruction about the project?
Should I leave a destination and date for its safe return?
Would someone pick it up and take care of it? Pass it on? Discard it? Hand it in? Its destiny entirely in the hands of others – unknown to me.
Could I set up a Facebook page or similar and request that people post updates should they find the pillowcase? Would anyone do that?
Would I cause a security alert by leaving an empty pillowcase on an underground train?
Would I see the pillowcase again?
Could the moment when I leave the pillowcase to continue without me be filmed?
Could others be present to wave it off?
I am determined to be a part of no man’s land! Where there is a will there is a way.