Thanks to my good friend Joe Santos I’ve begun a new series of work about WAR, specifically The Great Wars of WWI and WWII. Joe has been instrumental in lifting this series from the ground and giving it some wings.
A while back we were talking about what was next for me and my work and I was uncertain what the future held. He suggested doing something about war. Now, as it stands I’ve been wanting to do something in this arena for years but I knew how daunting a task this would be and kind of shied away from it. Well, after some much-needed encouragement from Joe………..it’s begun!
After some exhausting research and a visit to the War Museum in Ottawa I concluded I was right all along, this IS going to be the most difficult project I’ve ever undertaken. You see, I believe for most of us, war stirs up many emotions and it’s hard to track it down from one direction. For me, war has always been about COURAGE. What courage it must have taken to go ‘Up and over’ into a hail of shrapnel or step off that Landing Craft onto the beaches of Normandy as bullets whizzed by all around you. Anybody remember the first twenty minutes of ‘Saving Private Ryan’?
It took some time to wrap my head around the task at hand, so in true Lorimer fashion I decided to dig a trench. WWI was fought in the trenches, so let’s see what it was like to be there, if only in make-believe. The land I live on is 100% Canadian shield, which means bedrock, so I asked my good friend Steve Anderson (Margie’s brother) to come over with his back-hoe and lend me a hand. Steve dug several test holes before we finally got ground that was yielding. He dug a 40′ trench about three feet deep before we encountered bedrock. The trenches of WWI were more like 5-6 feet deep, so I had my work cut out for me. With spade in hand I began to raise the walls.
It took a couple of days before I managed to erect a trench I deemed suitable for my purposes. Next, I needed to dress it up to replicate WWI trench, so I rummaged around and located some props. With the trench beginning to take on an authentic feel I now needed to gather some army gear, so off to Toronto I went.
When I lived in Toronto ten years ago there were army surplus stores everywhere downtown, not anymore. I had to go all the way to the west end of town to find one but sadly they didn’t have anything from WWI. In fact, finding any authentic army wear was proving to be next to impossible. It’s only been a hundred years, I mean surely somewhere, someone must have something? Nope, nothing. So again I had to improvise.
Now I needed a model to photograph in my new trench . I tried shooting myself for a couple of days but that was proving to be more difficult than it was worth, so I turned to Margaret. She was down with garbing herself up in costume and being my ever faithful stand-in. Yup, that’s dear old Margie in the photo. God love her!
And so it’s begun my friends, the long arduous path of WAR.