As the anniversaries come and go, and the number of veterans dwindles each year, many could be forgiven for thinking that attitudes toward the Second World War will soon go in a similar direction to those toward the First – its impact waning with the passing of time. With this in mind, amateur photographer Nick Stone’s current project – titled Blitz Ghosts – is as timely as it is remarkable.
Layering documentary photographs from the period onto contemporary ones, and painstakingly matching up the buildings depicted in each, Nick creates windows into life in World War II. Interspersed with our fashions and technologies are firefighters tackling bomb damage, collapsed homes and sandbags placed up against civic buildings. The contemporary touch gives an additional dimension of realism. Most of us have seen photographs of war damage around the United Kingdom, but as the decades pass, their immediacy fades. Nick’s work maintains the space and minimises the distance in time. His time-consuming efforts are disguised by the sheer simplicity of the concept.
Captivating stuff. He currently focuses exclusively on his local area, Norwich, in part for convenience, but also because of the wealth of excellent photographs from the amateur and professional photographers of the 1940s. The local newspaper company, Archant, are proving to be helpful too, allowing access to their archives. There is also a slight – very slight - sense of resentment about the common focus on London in documenting war damage. It wasn’t just St. Paul’s Cathedral, in other words.
Hats off to Nick. Fascinating project. Click here for the Flickr collection, and here for the website (still under development).