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About the Work

When my mother died five years ago, I inherited lots of family photographs. I packed them away as I had no idea how to present them and in any case looking at them I found a melancholy activity. One day I decided to get a grip and I laid them out on the floor of my studio. Together they looked like an old aerial reconnaissance composite. Then I noticed one of myself at around 18 months with my pram. That reminded me. In early 1944 I was about 4 months old and out in my pram in the front garden with the washing. I and the washing were there because the back garden had been turned over to vegetable patches and chicken runs. My grandmother was in the house when she heard the noise. At first she ignored it because where we lived on the Nottinghamshire /Lincolnshire border by the Roman Fosse Way, Lancasters and Wellingtons were taking off and landing all the time. But it got louder and she must have sensed danger. Then there was the rat-a-tat-tat. Rushing out the front door she saw, following the Fosse Way at tree-top height and in her direction, a German bomber, its machine guns blazing at everything in sight. She grabbed my pram and yanked it up the front steps and inside the house just as the bullets hit the brickwork.

In this work, I have constructed from over 1000 photographs a life-size Dornier 217 bomber - the plane most likely to have been the one shooting in our direction. The photos at the extremities are the oldest and date to my birth. They move in time towards the nose where there is a photograph of my youngest grandchild which I have juxtaposed next to one of my grandmother as an alpha and omega. The engines driving the plane are made up of photographs of all my other works. 'Grandmother' is my tribute to the woman who saved my life and my attempt at an autobiography.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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