> The Last Stand: Landscape as a Witness to War

Marc Wilson / The Last Stand: Landscape as a Witness to War


From the memories of Basil John Valentine Spain: 

Once off the Normandy coast, it was my job to secure the boat for a few days until bad weather forced us into Arromanches harbour, a temporary pontoon, which was only partly completed at that time. The harbour itself was protected by merchant ships which had been sunk as a bulwark against invading enemy shipping.

LBK1’s role was to cater for the servicemen engaged in the operation on Gold Beach. A minor landing craft would go out to the larger supply ships, collect whatever food was available and make meals for their fellow servicemen.”

Basil’s war effort was publicised in the national and local press, under the headlines of Micky’s Fish and Chip Bar, a common name in those days for fish and chip shops. 

“The mackerel were certainly plentiful in the waters around the LBK1 as they fed off the blood and bodies of the many men who had lost their lives in the water.”

It was whilst involved in this operation, that Basil John Valentine Spain was mentioned in dispatches.


About the work:

Since 2008 I have been researching, recceing and shooting the photographs that make up The Last Stand, which aims to document some of the remaining physical remnants of war in the  20th century, along the coastlines of the UK and Northern Europe.

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 becomes 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 subjects’ physical form and the histories, stories and memories contained within, both of these wartime objects and the landscapes themselves.

With each passing year the evidence and memories fade a little more. I see every landscape as a witness to war and the passing time, each 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; and along the northern coasts of Europe including those of France and Belgium. In the past four years I have researched more than 200 locations and travelled over 10,000 miles to photograph 74 of them.

The Last Stand is being supported by Spectrum Photographic in Brighton.


Marc Wilson has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both in the UK and internationally in Milan, Grenoble and New York. Exhibitions include the inaugural shows at the Back Hill and Now Showing galleries (London); Art 2001, Photo2005, The Photographers’ Gallery, The Association of Photographers gallery and at the Focal Point Gallery, Southend.  http://marcwilsonthelaststand.com/