Stephen Dixon


Letters from Tripoli


'Letters from Tripoli' examined the role of text and object in the ‘reconstruction’ of histories. It questioned how confected artefacts can be combined with historical documents to construct a convincing and evocative visual narrative.

The catalyst for this project was a portfolio of documents dating from the 1940’s, which give a fragmentary glimpse into the life of an Italian military driver, who had served in North Africa and become a prisoner of war in Tripoli. The resonance with recent events in Libya (the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011) gave impetus to the project, which sought to develop this incomplete narrative through the creation and juxtaposition of evocative (but invented) artefacts.

Letters from Tripoli is located in the context of previous research, which has explored visual narrative through ceramic form and surface imagery, and tested the emotional resonance of materials to create ‘embodied’ narratives.

The work took the form of an archival cabinet with arrangements of found and fabricated objects arranged in 12 glass-topped drawers, appropriating the authority of museological taxonomies and systems of display. The project employed archival research in the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, as well as material testing of digital transfer printing systems and their application to a range of ceramic fragments and surfaces.


Photos: Tony Richards.










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