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In pictures: An artist’s tribute to D-Day airfield

Reconnaissance: Deanland AirfieldImage copyrightJohn Brockliss

Once home to squadrons of Spitfires, the airfield at Deanland near Hailsham in East Sussex has become the inspiration for an artistic collaboration between multimedia visual artist Alexander Johnson and photographer John Brockliss.

RAF Deanland was hastily constructed in 1943 ahead of the Allied invasion of France the following June – D-Day. Alexander’s late father, Don, had flown in Spitfires during World War Two as part of a photo-reconnaissance unit and it was his albums that inspired Alexander to create a series of artworks dedicated to those who served at the site.

Father and son: Laughton studioImage copyrightJohn Brockliss

Photographer John Brockliss set about documenting the process, initially for publicity purposes, but they both soon realised that his photographs stood alongside the art, offering an intimate insight into the artistic process. And so the collaborative project began.

Turpentine and willow: Pigment and patinaImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption Turpentine and willow: Pigment and patina
Preparing silk-screen masks: Laughton studioImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption Preparing silk-screen masks
Series progression: Deanland OaksImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption Deanland Oaks
The artist in his studioImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption The artist in his studio
In pictures: An artist’s tribute to D-Day airfield
In pictures: An artist’s tribute to D-Day airfield

Deanland’s role in the war was short-lived – by the end of 1944 it was no longer in use by the RAF, eventually falling into private hands, and today it is a grass strip for light aircraft.

Deanland hangarImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption Inside a hangar at Deanland

Today very little remains of the airfield’s former life so Johnson has blended historic details with textures from the present-day site, using his imagination to bring it to life.

Lift off: Laughton studioImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption The artist with his work
The final shoot: photographer and artistImage copyrightJohn Brockliss
Image caption The final shoot: photographer and artist

Deanland can be seen at 35 North Contemporary Fine Art Gallery in Brighton, from 8 June to 21 July.

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