“The project explores the sites that were used in the manufacture, testing, storage and disposal of these weapons beyond the Post-Military Landscape of the United Kingdom Taking its name from a Ministry of Defence investigation issued in 2011, that assessed the risk of residual contamination at sites in the United Kingdom used in the manufacture, storage, and disposal of chemical weapons from World War I to the present day. Looking beyond the risk assessment to the ways that landscapes are psychologically charged by their history. Examining the sites of the official investigation and many more including sites used for both chemical and biological weapons activities during the Cold War. Following traces that lead, predictably, to military bases and government facilities and, more surprisingly, to grocery stores and holiday parks.
The images take us into a journey along the country lanes of Dorset and Devon, the Peak District, the woodlands of Yorkshire and out across the open rolling countryside of the Salisbury Plain, all the way from the coastlines of East Anglia, the West Counties and Wales to the remote Scottish Highlands and the Irish Sea. When over 4,000 sq km of the landmass was appropriated for military use in the 20th century. Marking the influence of military activities upon British landscapes and provoking deeper consideration of their lasting social and environmental impacts. Locating unexpected vistas that challenge conventional understandings of place. They also remind us that war is domestic, one that employs thousands of people in production processes that are surely akin to activities in other contemporary industries. As we recognise the inheritances of the past, the places pictured here become interstitial; they seem to exist between past and present, public and private, civilian and military. Here, too, the pastoral myths of the bucolic British landscape — of simple nature, a golden past — are disrupted by material realities embedded in the landscape itself. As we contemplate these images, our perspectives shift, and yet a different kind of beauty persists.”
“My central concern lies in exploring transitional spaces, those in-between places where architecture, landscape and the built environment often intersect, and where a dialogue – of absence rather than presence – is created. My practice is driven by explorations of these charged, shifting entities – buildings that have come to the end of their functionality, the changing functionality of a landscape, human interruptions in the landscape – that exist in urban, rural and suburban contexts.” (Dara McGrath)
Dara McGrath (b. 1970) is an Irish photographic artist, living in Cork, Ireland. He is the recipient of many awards and has represented Ireland at the 11th Architecture Biennale Venice. Dara was a finalist in The Solas Awards Exhibition at Gallery of Photography Ireland, Dec-Jan 2016. Recently he presented Project Cleansweep at the United Nations (OPCW) in The Hague.
Dara McGrath Website: https://daramcgrath.com/
Gallery of Photography Ireland: www.galleryofphotography.ie
They talk about it:
Irish Time https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/art-and-design/visual-art/dara-mcgrath-project-cleansweep-1.2960997
The Irish Examiner https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/culture/the-cork-photographer-taking-pictures-of-contaminated-weapons-sites-969386.html
International Photomag http://internationalphotomag.com/dara-mcgrath-project-cleansweep/
British Journal of Photography https://www.bjp-online.com/2017/07/dara-mcgrath-unearths-dark-landscapes-with-project-cleansweep/