Traces of War - Landscapes of the Western Front

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To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Fleming Collection is showing an exhibition of work by Scottish photographer Peter Cattrell. Born in Glasgow in 1959, Catrell's interest in the Somme was sparked by the discovery of a photograph of his great uncle, William Wyatt Bagshawe pictured alongside three of his companions in the Sheffield 'Pals' Battalion. Cattrall subsequently found Bagshawe's name on the war memorial at Thiepval in Belgium during a visit in 1989. In 1996 Catrell returned to the Somme, this time with a camera. The photographs he took of the landscape on this trip were the start of a project which ran over many years and numerous visits, resulting in an expansive and emotive body of work. The landscape Cattrell catches is a contradictory one; witness to the horrors of war, yet simultaniously tranquil and softened by the contant renewal of nature.

These quiet, reflective landscapes are accompanied by a more recent series of still life photographs, exhibited here for the first time. Shrapnel and other debris found by Cattrell has  been carefully photographed in his London studio, their surface treated with the same fine eye for detail the photographer applies to his images of the battlefields. Although in stark contrast to the natural forms of the landscapes which are consciously devoid of human presence, Cattrell approaches these remnants with the same gentle contemplation.

Also on display in the exhibition are a series of photographs by George P. Lewis on loan from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which depict the women who worked in transport and heavy industries in Scotland during the First World War. Lewis was commisioned by the Women's Work Committee for the Imperial War Museum in 1918 and, in 2004, Cattrell was commisioned to produce silver gelitin prints from Lewis' negatives.