George Logan is showing images from Shell Shock and Foresight in the Northlight Gallery windows, Stromness.
This work was originally shown in 2017 at the Patriothall Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, and shows the right eyes of soldiers from the Black Watch Regiment who served in WW1.
The photographs were sourced from the Black Watch Museum in Perth.
Isolated and enlarged in this way the aged and damaged photographs of the eyes powerfully communicate the horrors we naturally assume that the young soldiers experienced.
The exhibition is on now till Saturday 19th of September.
I don’t think I would like to see this. My grandfather took his own life after suffering shell shock. And it’s still happening now. Maybe the pictures should be nailed up near an army recruiting office.
I had a similar reaction. I think that looking into those eyes, would send me down a dark road.
But….folk need to be reminded…
Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen – 1893-1918
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
*Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
I’ll take this opportunity to say something about fireworks – the ones which make loud bangs.
Many ex-military people can be very distressed by these noises. The reader might be calling me a kill-joy, but – imagine that you have been serving in a war zone. Then, you are home, safe. Then BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!!
It might also be said that it was their choice to join the military. But – young people now, as in the past, still join the military with no real idea of what they are letting themselves in for – what they might encounter – un-imaginable things, compared to their home life. They fall for ‘Dulce et decorum est.’ And the ads. about having a jolly time in far-away places.
Whether there is a need for war or not is open to debate, and can vary according to circumstances. There is no need for fireworks which make loud bangs. Simple as that.