Meadow Arts commission
Formal garden replaced with turf from Ulster.
20 x 10 metres
Oliver Cromwell’s victory in the English Civil War is celebrated for laying the foundations of Britain’s constitutional system, in which the power of the Monarchy is limited by Parliament. Yet Cromwell’s military campaign in Ireland was brutally unjust. His actions compounded the already problematic relations between Protestant and Catholic people, and began centuries of trouble, pain and grief.
Acknowledging this sorry history, ‘It Happened Here’ offers a fragment of an alternative vision. We replaced the formal courtyard garden in the Commandery with turf brought from County Derry / Londonderry in Ulster. By transforming Irish turf into an English lawn, we hope to unsettle established constructions of national identity and territory. Although landscape and memory are closely bound together, this work proposes that just as the outcomes of history are never certain, neither the actions of erasure nor the codes of commemoration are fixed for all time.
‘It Happened Here’ is the title of a film directed by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, who worked with a cast of volunteers using army surplus equipment and costume, and filmed in locations of actual wartime damage. The narrative focuses on Pauline, an Irish nurse struggling with the fear, disappointment and compromise of an alternative history of the Second World War, in which Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Britain.