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Legacy of War Roundtable – Aviation Crash Sites: Archaeology, Art, Heritage, Research

28 February 2020

12.30pm–2.00pm

On 28 February 2020 the RAF Museum will host a Round table discussion as part of its lunchtime lectures series on the Legacy of War participating will be Dr Phil Marter, Artist Loz Atkinson and the RAF Museum's Head of Collections Ian Thirsk.

Handley Page Hampden being lifted by crane out of the water

TALK OUTLINE

Dr Phil Marter will discuss RAF Wartime Aviation Crash Sites in Europe. The remnants of the 1939-45 air-war now lie scattered across the continent, residing in almost every European nation. These historic aviation crash sites represent individual tragedies that have the power to link us to specific past events, particular aircrew and their aircraft at a single moment in time. They hold meaning to relatives of the crews, to the armed services to which they belonged and to the nations they represent.
  
In many cases they also form an important part of the history of the area where the crash site remains now reside. Viewed in a wider context, they stand testimony to the struggle for aerial supremacy in the skies of Europe and the subsequent historical narratives that developed in its wake.

These narratives also help to shape current attitudes to the past and to our understanding of it; RAF historic aviation crash sites are therefore of both national and international significance.
Since 1945, individual countries have all developed slightly different attitudes to the presence of wartime crash sites within their landscapes, and no uniform approach to them exists. Nations have employed ‘heritage strategies’ that range from complete indifference to deliberate archaeological enquiry or even specialised military recovery.

Frequently, military authorities have focused their attention on the removal of live ordnance or human remains, and heritage groups and aviation enthusiasts on the recovery of military memorabilia. In many cases, sites are afforded little protection from damage or loss, and the exploration of such sites is often unregulated.

This has resulted in an occasionally haphazard attitude to their treatment and the loss of important contextual data at each site. Environmental factors such as weathering, change in land use, dredging and development continue to threaten these fragile sites and their long-term preservation in-situ is frequently not a viable option. How then can we develop a heritage strategy for them that is commensurate with their cultural significance?
  
Loz Atkinson will discuss Expedition JP237
23 June 1944. The crew of Handley Page Halifax MKII Bomber JP237 prepare for special ops mission Operation Sound 1 – N. Italy. Take off 20.11 hours. Instead of a landing time, the official record states: "The loss of such an excellent crew is a sad blow to the Squadron."

Aboard that fateful plane was Flight Engineer Sgt. Arthur Pinder, Artist Loz Atkinson’s Great Grandfather, who had only joined 148 Squadron in March 1944, by 2am on June 24 1944 he and the entire crew of Halifax JP237 had been killed in action.

In July 2019 Loz set out on Expedition JP237 accompanied by Aeronautical Archeologist Francesco Sabini and Photographer Zoe Childerley, they climbed Mount Zatta in Northern Italy to discover the fatal crash site of JP237. Expedition JP237 is a multi faceted project exploring ideas of pilgrimage, remembrance and sacrifice. Through personal exploration, physical expedition, collaboration, research, documentation, collection of artifacts, GPS data, fieldwork and the creation of art interventions directly into the landscape of the mountain.

The project will culminate in a major exhibition showing a brand new body of work at New Walk Museum, Leicester in May/June 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Loz will discuss the expedition, her artistic approach and explore how ideas of pilgrimage, remembrance and sacrifice relate to crash sites.
  
Ian Thirsk - the Recovery of the Dornier Do17
Ian Thirsk will discuss the experience of the RAF Museum in recovering the Dornier 17 from the Goodwin Sands in 2013. Full details to follow shortly.

DO-17 being raised, 10 June 2013

Location

The lecture will be held at the Royal Force Museum, London at 12.30pm on Friday 28 February 2020.

TICKETS

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited.
Book now for this free lecture

ABOUT PHIL MARTER

Dr Phil Marter is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Winchester. He teaches the archaeology of the recent past as part of undergraduate and post-graduate archaeology and heritage courses and his research focusses on the archaeology of the European Air War (1939-1945).

He is currently carrying out fieldwork in search of a JU88 crash site on Thorney Island in Hampshire and working with the Federal State Archaeological Service in Hessen and Saxion University in the Netherlands to explore the crash site of a 115 Squadron Lancaster in Hessen, Germany.

Phil is also working with Hampshire County Council and Historic England on the integration of wartime aviation data into regional historic environment records. Phil's father, brother, uncle and cousin all served in the RAF and he is an associate member of RAF 10 Squadron Association.

ABOUT LOZ ATKINSON

Loz Atkinson is an award winning, widely collected artist, who has been practicing and exhibiting for over 10 years. Her concept driven work has been depicted in paint, installation and digital media. The exploration of ideas is what compels her and she adapts her skills in many processes to convey them. Her work is provocative yet hopeful. Inspired by nature and interrupted by geometry Loz’s paintings concern themselves with the human need to conquer and understand the existential mysteries of the universe.

Having a distinct eye for detail, light and layering colour, gives her work visual, as well as evocative depth. Gazing into the sky and cosmos, marveling at the vastness, but only for a moment, before a line, an edge or form crashes us back to earth. Loz has exhibited extensively in the UK, Europe, America and beyond, with one of her Imagined Nebula paintings being digitally ‘bounced’ off the Moon and another currently travelling through outer space on the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx.

Loz has also had projects supported by Arts Council England including ‘Expedition JP237’ which saw her climb a mountain in Italy to discover the fatal crash site of her Great Grandfather’s WW2 Halifax Bomber, producing a large body of work influenced by her experiences which included a reworked Bristol Hercules engine. Loz has created many pieces for public art events throughout the UK.

Including Jungle City Edinburgh that featured her work on the front cover of the accompanying art book. 'Deliverance', for Elephant Parade London in 2010, sold at auction for £10,000 and 'An unquenched defiance to the stars’ for Wild Dolphins Aberdeen sold at auction for £22,000. To date her work has helped raise nearly £40,000 for various wildlife and children’s charities.

ABOUT IAN THIRSK

Ian Thirsk has worked for the Royal Air Force Museum since December 1989, beginning in the Visual Arts Department as Assistant Curator of the Film Archive. Promoted to Curator of Film in 1994, he became responsible for the Museum’s collection of Film and Sound Recordings, overseeing their preservation and conservation and ensuring their accessibility for research by external users (television and film companies) and Museum staff.

In 2010 Ian succeeded Richard Simpson as Keeper of the Royal Air Force Museum’s Aircraft and Exhibits Department, the job title being revised to ‘Head of Collections’ to incorporate a wider remit including responsibility for the Museum’s Michael Beetham Conservation Centre (MBCC) at Cosford plus the Reserve Collection at Stafford. Ian is basically responsible for all aspects relating to the RAF Museum’s ‘large 3D object’ collection, essentially the aircraft, vehicle and boat collections.

This includes all aspects relating to their acquisition, disposal, restoration and display. Additionally he oversees the Museum’s Fine Art plus the Medals and Uniforms Collections. Ian played a major role in overseeing the Dornier 17 recovery project from the outset and has worked on several other aircraft acquisitions for the Museum including the Hercules, Harrier GR9, Dominie and, more recently, the VC10 C1K.

Ian maintains a lifelong interest in aviation history, especially the products of the de Havilland Aircraft Company and the Mosquito in particular.


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