inspired by Royal Armouries welcomes the opportunity to work with community groups to produce artworks inspired by… our collection and themes.

A visual marker of the shadows of conflict

Marc Wilson is a photographer based in Bath, England whose fine art work is based in the genre of documentary landscape photography. This exhibition documents some of the last physical remnants of war in the 20th century in the UK and northern Europe, the remaining military defence structures.

The exhibition will be open to the public:

  • Fort Nelson, Fareham, PO17 6AN 3 May 2013 – 24 September 2013
  • Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, LS10 1LT – 8 November 2013 – 28 February 2014

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“Whilst Wilson utilises the language of the landscape photograph, The Last Stand is far removed from the genre in the traditional sense, firmly placing him within a small group of contemporary photographers whose work — whilst landscape in nature — has more in common with that of the documentary photographer… The silent beauty of Wilson’s landscape photographs — that bear witness to greatest conflict of the modern age and the passing of time — is that they do not try to say more than they know; but form a place where the viewer can reflect and contemplate upon the fruitless turmoil of war and the selfless sacrifice of so many, who fought against the threat and shadow of oppression that hung high above Europe.”

Wayne Ford (former art director of The Observer’s award winning colour magazine & Design Director of Haymarket Business Media)

Between 2010 and 2013 I have been researching, recceing and shooting the photographs that make up The Last Stand, which aims to document some of the physical remnants of the second world war in the British isles and Northern Europe. The subjects I am photographing are the remaining military defence structures situated around their coastal areas.

These man-made objects and zones of defence now sit silently in the landscape, imbued with the history of our recent past. Some remain proud and strong, some are gently decaying. Many now lie prone beneath the cliffs where they once stood. Through the effects of the passing years, all have become part of the fabric of the changing landscape that surrounds them.

Whilst I capture the individual beauty of these objects in their landscapes, the series of photographs become much more than a set of traditional landscapes. My aim is that the collection will become a permanent photographic record of the past. A testament to the physical form of the subjects and the histories, stories and memories contained within.

With each passing year the evidence and memories fade a little more and it is especially for this reason that I am undertaking this project. I see each and every landscape as a witness to war with a story to tell, whether it is one of unfulfilled defiance or one of tragedy.

This project takes in locations throughout the UK, from Cornwall in the south west of England to the far north west of Scotland; the Channel Islands including Jersey and Guernsey and along the northern coasts of Europe including those of France and Belgium.

The current body of work contains 44 colour photographs as well as research text for the histories of the locations and objects contained there, and the memoires of war veterans.

The project was part funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign where over £2500 was contributed towards the works completion.

Why The Royal Armouries?

I believe the project fits into the vision of Royal Armouries quite strongly. The subject matter is one that has impacted on all generations whether directly or through family histories and memories. The ideas contained within are important for both current and future generations to know, understand, and learn from.

The imagery used allows the viewer access to dwell on what is at its heart a traditional documentary subject but through a different visual medium…that of the landscape.

The images themselves are photographed throughout the UK and along the coast of France and Belgium, and so will have appeal to both local and wider audiences.


Here are a selection of the images you will see in the exhibition. All images are © Marc Wilson 2012.