THE SYMMETRY OF CARNAGE Oil on Paper, 48.5 cm x 38.5 cm (framed), 2018
The Symmetry of Carnage continues the body of work Lucy Ash has created to highlight LGBT issues. In 2011 she exhibited the series ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’ to raise awareness of hate-crimes, following the brutal homophobic attack on Ian Baynham, the brother of one of her closest friends. Other series and paintings including ‘Iris 02’ have further focused on this issue.
'The Symmetry of Carnage' looks at the necessary invisibility of gay men who served in WW1. Homosexuality was illegal and was not tolerated - it was regarded as deviant and immoral. Those caught were subjected to corporal punishment. Reputations were ruined. Consequently, gay men kept a low profile and hid the secret of who they were. They feared physical and emotional abuse as well as the harsh punishment. They often deliberately sacrificed themselves to enemy fire to save the shame their family would feel if found out. During WW1, 22 British officers and 270 soldiers were court-martialled for homosexual acts.
The division of the painting into 11 x 11 rectangles signifies the moment of the end of the war; the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Each of the 121 sections is built from thick earth/mud coloured oil paint tinged with red to mark the tragic spilled blood. Within each section a cross represents a gay soldier who has had to blend in, in life. Now in giving his life for his country he disappears into the earth.
This painting was created in response to the First World War, for the Peninsula 2018 Poppy Project; a series of Wilford Peninsula based community projects to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1st World War, whilst at the same time raising money for the Royal British Legion and the Suffolk Punch Trust. The centerpiece project is the art show held at The Suffolk Punch Trust 2nd-11th November 2018.