In Different Skies

Chester photographer David Heke has produced a video as a  personal response to aspects of The First World War, which have had an influence on his life and perception of the conflict.

It is constructed in two parts, each with their own perspectives, yet both are linked by the emphasis on the human experience of the war. The narrative runs through both parts, from the battles for the ocean to the conflict on the land, and speaks as much for those left behind at home as it does for those caught up, and lost, on the front lines.

Part one is inspired by the experience of his Grandfather, Gwilym James Heke, who was an engineer in the Merchant Navy before and during World War One. The ship on which he served was sunk in December 1916 by the German merchant raider, SMS Möwe, and he spent the rest of the war in a German prisoner of war camp.

The experiences of these events stayed with him for the rest of his life.
Many thousands of British and Allied ships were lost during the war and many hundreds of thousands of people were killed or taken prisoner. When we remember the First World War we tend to think of the horror of the trenches and the land-based conflict yet a large part of the war was lost and won at sea.

Part two takes its inspiration from the work of the First World War Poets. At the age of 14, David studied a poetry book at school called The Men Who Marched Away. It featured the work of the war poets. He was deeply affected by reading these poems, particularly the work of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. David says he still has this school book and has used a selection of these poems as the narrative in this section. It forms a meditation on human experience and loss.

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