Blog by artist/printmaker Dawn Cole
Amongst Clarice’s archive there are many photographs, obviously taken in France during WW1 but unfortunately with no record as to exactly when and where. Researching these images has been virtually impossible and until very recently I have drawn a blank.
I had initially made assumptions, and to begin with that was what my first body of work responded to, the assumptions we make based on the information presented to us. After all an archive is only as good as the information in it and initially I deliberately did little research other than to verify certain things mentioned in the diary.
With reference to the photographs the assumptions I made were that they referred to the hospitals and people Clarice talked about in her diary and were therefore taken between 1915 – 1916. I have been to various archives to research both of these but had turned up no other photographs to verify my assumptions.
That was until very recently. At various intervals over the past few years I have searched the IWM online photo archive, but as I have said it is extremely hard to search for information about a photograph you know hardly anything about and trawling through thousands of images that come up when you search for WW1 hospitals France is a very time consuming and rather soul destroying activity. Having recently typed in my usual words, this time a set of photographs came up that caused quite a shock
This photograph is one of my favourites from the archive and one of the most intriguing. The building itself is very grand and I had assumed it was a place called ‘The Casino’ in Wimereux, where the hospital Clarice refers to as Rawal Pindi was set up.
This is what I found on the IWM website
© IWM (Q 10561)
A ward in the Casino Lechin, one of the sis Sections of No.2 General hospital, Le Havre.
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION
An almost identical photograph, but not taken on the same day as this one shows bunting strung up. And sadly no date, but the really exciting discovery is that I now know where the hospital was – Le Havre. Now I just have to find out when and how Clarice was posted to Le Havre and visit the IWM to see the photograph myself.
This now gives another place on Clarice’s journey and another stopping off point for Resting Place when it goes to France in 2015