Installation ‘Winterline’ by Elaine Shemilt at www.castellopandone.beniculturali.it
An exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints at the Scottish Arts Club at 24 Rutland Square, Edinburgh.
The exhibition was conceived to record the 70th Anniversary of the Allied ‘Italian Campaign’ in Italy during winter 1943 and 1944. The significance of this campaign to Scotland is that it occurred in the geographical area of origin of many Italian people who subsequently emigrated to Scotland; the conflict also profoundly affected the lives of Italian people already settled in Scotland as their family members who were called to serve for the British Army found themselves fighting against Italian family members in the exact area of their origins.
This exhibition is the first showing of the new works created by Elaine Shemilt during 2013 and 2014, conceived specifically to bring this chapter of history which recounts some of the motivations and circumstances of the heritage of the immigrant community of Italian people in Scotland.
Working from the towns of Filignano and Venafro, Shemilt spent three months researching the topography where between September 1943 and May 1944 soldiers fought through heavy rain, mud and snow. The zone of conflict lies on the confines of the regions of Molise and Lazio which was demarcated as the Winter Line and the Gustav Line.
The impact of the conflict and civilian evacuations were the abandonment of ancient highways, cultivated land and entire villages which today remain hidden from view amongst dense foliage, populated only by the detritus of hand to hand conflict: ammunition canisters, grenades, belts and buckles lie amongst machine-gun emplacements and trenches now etched into the mountainous landscape as stark evidence of the aggressive occupation and conflict in one of the hardest won and most costly campaigns during WWII; the Allied mortality rate was 1,000 soldiers for each mile gained from German control.
The themes of conflict, territory and legacy are consistent with Shemilt’s practice which excavates historical fact to explore its impact upon society today. Since 1998 Shemilt has visited and researched the remote South Georgia Islands to document the effect of the Falklands War upon the society and landscape and amongst other outputs her work on this project was exhibited at The Imperial War Museum, London in 2002.
Winterline was commissioned by Cultural Documents and is supported by IFS Worldwide www.ifsww.co.uk; Arts and Business, Scotland; The Royal Society of Edinburgh; Regione Molise; The Centre for Remote Environments; Scottish Society of Artists; Museo Winterline (Venafro); Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and The University of Dundee.