Manchester Evening News
Tracey goes BALLISTIC
Friday July 15 1999
Artbeat by Rachel Pugh
How nuclear missiles with pretty names launched a Manchester artistic campaign for peace
Red Snow, Violet Vision and Orange Herald may sound like varieties of garden flowers - but they are the names given to British nuclear warheads that have provoked Manchester artist Tracey sanders-Wood into launching her own artistic campaign for peace, which is extending its tentacles over Europe.
The Moss Side-based art lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University created a creative storm in Bulgaria, when she talked at a digital art conference in Plovdiv and showed work she'd produced in Manchester inspired by her disgust at the naming of weapons of mass destruction. She has now set up an arts project with artists from England, Switzerland, Macedonia and Finland to explore the way that military events are viewed by different countries.
The show called 'Where The Pheasant Hides' will be shown in the Holden Gallery, Cavendish Street, Manchester, and in Macedonia and Bulgaria during October and November. "It was the names of these nuclear warheads that really got to me," says Tracey, "I had been talking to a friend who works for the MoD in the bar one night and he started telling me some of them." Fired up by indignation at the ironic beauty of the British weapons' names, Tracey put together a show at Cube gallery called 'Give Battle in Vain' (the last part of the mnemonic "Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain" for the colours of the rainbow). Each of the seven British warheads is named after one of these.
The new show Tracey is coordinating with work colleague John Hyatt and nuclear historian Dr Stephen Twigg, is named after the Russian equivalent of the memory aid "every hunter needs to know where the pheasant hides".
Macedonian artist Natasha Dimitrievska, who worked on the Cannes award winner 'Before The Rain,' is filming the concrete tunnels and underpasses of eastern Europe. Amos taylor from Finland is tracking stray dogs in the streets of Sofia, drawing the analogy with missiles which have a homing instinct, other artists will produce photography, digital art, paintings and prose.
The group will work under the name Doria Hemming - a pseudonym already employed by Tracey for her Cube gallery show earlier this year. The name is an anagram of Indigo Hammer - another of the seven innocently-called atomic weapons. Doria's identity is one of the devices Tracey uses to highlight the duplicity and fear that surrounded events of the Cold War, and the appearance of peace between nations that can easily erupt into war. She says: "People accept that these weapons are here and they stop questioning it. It's only when Pakistan drops its bomb and things get nasty in India that it all comes back to memory."
PHOTOGRAPH: THE DYING GAME: Tracey Sanders-Wood and John Hyatt prepare for their anti-war show Where The Pheasant Hides.