HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER

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HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER
Fold out sleeve, thirty-three postcards, bound-in leaflet, black elastic band
Self-published through Negative Press London in a numbered edition of fifty
148 x 106 x 18 mm
Published 31 July 2016

At Nunhead Cemetery in south London, the epitath on the headstone of one soldier’s grave stone reads:

HOW MANY HOPES
LIE BURIED HERE
MOTHER

“How many hopes lie buried here?” It’s a question I repeatedly asked as I walked past headstone after headstone and photographed age after age, during visits to cemeteries tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in Belgium, England and in Oosterbeek in the Netherlands, close to where I grew up.

Within the considered minimal design of Portland stone headstones, every fallen World War I and World War II Commonwealth soldier is remembered in the same way, irrespective of military rank, race, religion, talents, hopes or dreams.

The photographs are presented as a bundle of postcards held together by a black elastic band. The cards are organised in ascending numerical order, showing all ages from eighteen to fifty – representing every age from the beginning of my adult life to reaching fifty. During these thirty-three years, I feel fortuitous to have materialised some of my hopes and dreams, including the making of this work. What hopes and dreams did the men have whose graves I photographed?

These are cards for quiet contemplation, not for sending.

Jan Woolf writes “(The work) doesn’t aestheticise war, but it does personalise it, as the artist invites us to reflect on the hopes and dreams any of us may have had at twenty two – thirty three – fifty… ” Read the article here

How Many Hopes Lie Buried Here Mother Dutch Centre 2016

Exhibition view (ages 20 to 24), How Many Hopes Lie Buried Here Mother at the Dutch Centre, London

The photographs were exhibited at The Library, Dutch Centre, Dutch Church, London EC2N 2HA (11 October to 18 December 2016). I was a guest speaker at the Remembrance Day service at the Dutch Church on 13 November 2016.

The book is available to buy from the Negative Press shop www.neg-press.com/shop and from Boekie Woekie, Berenstraat 16, 1016 GH Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Roelof Bakker How Many Hopes Lie Buried Here 24

‘Age 24’ (Hooge Crater Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium)

 

HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER is dedicated to Canadian soldier James Carter Irwin (1898-1916) and his mother Jennie Carter Irwin (1871-1925). Mrs Irwin supplied the wording for the epitath that appears on her son’s grave, the title of this project.

Eighteen-year old bank clerk James was wounded on 2 June 1916 in a battle near Sanctuary Wood, Ypres , Belgium and was subsequently transferred to King George Hospital in Stamford Street, London SE1, where he died of wounds on 31 July 1916. He was interred at Nunhead Cemetery on 3 August 1916.

The book was launched at James Carter Irwin’s grave in Nunhead Cemetery in south London on the centenary of his death on the 31 July 2016. In a short speech I paid tribute to him and his mother Jennie Carter Irwin and laid flowers on his grave.

The University of Kent’s Gateways to the First World War website features an essay about the background to this project (posted 8 December 2016).

http://www.gatewaysfww.org.uk/blog/how-many-hopes-lie-buried-here-mother

 

Photographed from 2007 to 2016 at Tyne Cot Cemetery (Ypres, Belgium), Hooge Crater Cemetery (Ypres, Belgium), Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery (Oosterbeek, Netherlands), Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery (London, UK), St Pancras and Islington Cemetery (London, UK), Brockley Cemetery (London), Brompton Cemetery (London), Mill Hill Cemetery (London).

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Library and Archives Canada (Military Heritage: First World War), Veterans Affairs Canada, Canadian Great War Project, In the Ypres Salient, The Story of a Fortnight’s Canadian Fighting, June 2nd to 16th 1916 by Beckles Willson (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, London 1916).

 

HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER Roelof Bakker

How Many Hopes Lie Buried Here Mother, unbound photo book, published 31 July 2016

18 Roelof Bakker HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER

‘Age 18’ (Brompton Cemetery, London)

27 Roelof Bakker HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER

‘27’ (Tyne Cot Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium)

38 Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery Roelof Bakker HOW MANY HOPES LIE BURIED HERE MOTHER

‘38’ (Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, the Netherlands)