Preview: Nicholas Hedges – Mine the Mountain

Nicholas Hedges, The Wall. Photo courtesy Surface Gallery.

Exhibtion: Nicholas Hedges – Mine the Mountain, Surface Gallery, Nottingham, March 6 – March 19 2010

Artists may travel, but it is debatable whether they take holidays. Certainly, in his choice of European destinations, Nicholas Hedges has not made it easy for himself

While preparing his mixed-media installation for the new show at Surface Gallery, he visited the three former concentration camps and two World War One battlefields. Auschwitz, Belzec, Majdane, Ypres and Verdun are not renowned for their beaches.

What Hedges found at all these sites of historical trauma was an experience of ‘dark tourism’, a theme he explores in Mine the Mountain. Not so easy to find were traces of the individuals to whom he might relate.

Instead, he was confronted with mountains of shoes, piles of ash, lists of names  But on some of these lists were miners from Welsh mine which once employed members of Hedges own family. This was Hedge’s connection to the Great War

The discovery prompted a further trip, this time as a tourist of the self. On his visit to Wales, he attempts to open a dialogue with his own past. You can see for yourself if his artistic practice manages to overcome the facelessness of mass slaughter.

Written for Culture24.

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