Project update: exploring the southern section of the Western Front

In my last update, I mentioned that another field trip to the Western Front was in the planning stage, and this trip took place at the end of June.  This time, I explored and photographed parts of the southern section of the front, from Reims down to the Swiss border.

The trip took in the rolling green fields of the Champagne countryside, so peaceful and idyllic today in contrast with their appearance a century ago.  Then on to the mighty fortress at Verdun, and the ring of now ruined fortifications surrounding the town, each

Countryside

The rolling countryside near Reims

with its own story to tell amongst the fractured concrete and the dripping dankness of a maze of underground passages.  Further south, I explored the hilltop trenches of Le Ligne and Hartmannswillerkopf, carved from the living rock, with trenchlines falling away along what seem like almost vertical drops.  And finally, I reached the Swiss border itself, where the long snaking line of the 400 or more miles of the Western Front finally petered out.

Hills at Hartmannswillerkopf

The hills at Hartmannswillerkopf

It was, as ever, an education to see the different landscapes across which this monumental conflict was fought.  I am gradually publishing the images from the trip on Twitter and on Facebook, and I hope that I have captured both the variety of landscapes and locations, and also some of the emotional charge which these locations still hold today.  As ever, comments and contributions in response to the images are not only welcomed, but encouraged.

In the meantime, I have a growing programme of talks and presentations to community and other groups over the next few months, and am really keen to extend this – so if you know anyone that might be interested in hearing a presentation, or hosting a workshop or seminar on the project, then please contact me.

I am also pleased to confirm that I now have five public exhibitions of images planned in between 2014 and 2018, which will provide the opportunity to show some of the photographs in print and at larger scale than is possible online.  More details will follow nearer the time.

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About simongregor

Photographer, business thinker and tour guide.
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