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- Published 16th April 2012
International Photographer brings Napoleon to Jaywick in May!
Napoleon's Telescope, an exhibition to held at the Jaywick Martello Tower
Exhibition: Saturday 5th May –Sunday 7th July 2012
Open Wednesday- to Sunday 10am-5pm
Location: Martello Tower C, at Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
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Napoleon Bonaparte was an historical giant. The history of Western Europe
in the early 1800s was dominated by his personality and military feats. He threatened Britain but was ultimately defeated by Wellington and his Prussian allies. Jaywick’s historic Martello Tower, built to protect local people from invasion, is now the setting for an exhibition by the international photographer, Gina Glover.
Gina Glover’s exhibition Napoleon's Telescope is the newest component of her internationally acclaimed Playgrounds of War series. Napoleon’s Telescope uses photography, video, scanograms and stereoscopic installation portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte to throw light on Britain’s often forgotten military past and how people think of military conflict today.
Napoleon's Telescope provides a more playful addition to Glover’s Playgrounds of War series. Glover who is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, uses her pinhole camera to depict the Martello Towers on England’s Essex Coast. These brick towers, built in the early 1800s to withstand sea-born assault by Napoleon’s forces, are observed through a circular black frame. The influence here is Napoleon’s famous telescope. Thus we see the Martello Towers as Napoleon might have seen them, albeit with some recent additions to the landscape, such as caravan sites!
The real history is serious. By the end of 1803 Bonaparte had amassed on the cliffs around Calais an army of 130,000 strong and a flotilla of 2,000 crafts to carry the host across the Channel. Martello towers were built, at enormous public expense, along the coastlines of Kent, Sussex, Essex and
Suffolk. Originally, there were 103 of these 30ft-high towers, with walls 13ft thick and roof-mounted cannons capable of shooting lead balls one mile out to sea. They were never used, but may have had a role in deterring Napoleon’s invasion.
Glover was intrigued to see how these once-mighty defensive structures are used today. Such defenses form an important part of the history of Britain, she suggests. They helped assuage public fears of Napoleon’s invasion. While they have had no useful function almost from the moment they were built Glover argues that they should be preserved and enjoyed. One example of a Martello Tower put to good use is at Jaywick, now an arts centre and museum. Martello Towers provide not only a key which unlocks the Past but stand as a symbol for the Present. “We live in very different times” says Glover “in Napoleon’s era nowhere in Europe was a democracy, neither Britain nor France. Today we have much freer exchange of people and ideas. Around the same number of British people live in France as French people live in Britain. Open minds and open borders make for tolerance and peace.”
Also included in this exhibition is Glover’s film Men of Air. This is the result of a collaboration with the musician and designer Andy West. This film features the strange encounter between a farmer and ghostly presences of airmen on a secret WWII aerodrome in Northamptonshire. The film is based on
recollections of his story by people living there. The star of the film is farm worker, Roy Leaning.
Born in London, Gina Glover is a co-founder and Director of the Photofusion Photography Centre, London. In 2008 Glover received the Royal Photographic Society's Hood Medal, and she has been twice winner of the Medical Research Council/Novartis/Daily Telegraph Visions of Science Award.
Playgrounds of War is a touring exhibition, shown in places as far apart as Glasgow and Guangdong (China). In Feb 2012, it will be shown at The Horse Hospital Gallery, London and then at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in collaboration with the European Council. In October 2012, the exhibition moves to the Alfred East Gallery in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
Accompanying publicity picture
Gina Glover’s picture shows Bonaparte in his bicorn (two-cornered) hat, his telescope lying across his arm, as he stares out across the English Channel, perhaps plotting invasion? Of course there were no photographs taken at the time, since photography was not invented until five years after Napoleon’s
death. This is a 7cm (2 ½ ins) lead figure of Napoleon superimposed on the scene. To see this image, the audience will peep through a stereoscopic viewfinder to have an intimate relationship with Napoleon.
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