The Signalman (part 3)

I have finished the last flag in The Signalman series (you can read about the other two flags and a bit of background  to the work here and here). This last flag is made in response to events that took place during the 3rd night action of the Battle of Jutland and specifically the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron engagement.

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This action was devastating for the HMS Southampton as it was hit by twenty 4.1” and 5.1” shells. Three guns and two searchlights were knocked out and the ship’s radio was destroyed. Lieutenant Stephen King-Hall wrote: ‘75% of the upper deck men on Southampton had been killed or wounded. It had been a point blank engagement. Southampton was burning so badly that a friend of mine who was five miles away on one of the 5th Battle Squadron ships read a signal on the bridge by the light of our fires’.

My grandfather was very lucky to survive the action.

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Flag 3: Night action

Fires started. Flames engulfed the forebridge.

Signal method: Flags

Linen, cotton duck, cotton, brass

Written by Charlie Sewell in his memoire.

 ‘… at 10.20pm the roar of the claxon sounded and action stations were manned again. I took my place on the upper bridge and as soon as I could accustom myself to the darkness it was clear that a line of light cruisers was just before us on the starboard beam, steering, what appeared almost a parallel course, gradually closing upon us …. finally, both seemed to challenge at the same time and immediately there were exchanges of gunfire and torpedoes, an action which historians state lasted 15 minutes, but to me five minutes….’

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The ‘U’ flag – The Royal Navy Handbook of Signalling (1913)

I am having a bit of a dilemma. My original intention was to set fire the flag in order to blacken it (but obviously not to fully destroy it). Now it comes to it, I can’t decide ….. I wonder if it may seem trite rather than powerful …… what do you think?

The exhibition details are:

The Archive Project @The Cello Factory

33-34 Cornwall Rd., Waterloo, London. SE1 8TJ

Thursday 4th May – Friday 12th May 2017,

Open daily 11.00-17:30 (16:00 on last day)

MEET THE ARTISTS Saturday 6th May 11:00-17:30.

 

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6 thoughts on “The Signalman (part 3)

  1. chyfey

    I think yes to a bit of grunge,the bottom edge perhaps, its the really dramatic night on the deck we are talking about but your flag has managed to come through it in perfect condition.
    If you have some scrap flag fabric still ,practice scorching it with one of those disposable blow torches you get from the hardware store .Or fray some of it with some sandpaper ,you can again try that first on a scrap.I ve been fascinated with the posts about this exhibition so thank you for sharing them ,Im in Australia otherwise I would be there on opening night.Cheers Faye

    Reply
  2. Caroline Taylerson

    Your work is closely related to the effects of the elements on textiles……..earth and water in particular in previous pieces. In The Signalman series air would have had an effect on the textile of the flags as would fire changing it in a way that is only controllable in a limited way both in the texture and visually. Hope this gives you something to consider.
    Just about to return home from a few days in Holkum.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Burnt Cloth | debbie lyddon

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