Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited, is a series of portraits by photographer Sam Faulkner exploring how we remember the fallen from a time before photography was invented.
Since 2009, Faulkner has travelled to the annual Waterloo re-enactment in Belgium to photograph the ‘soldiers’ who take part, dressed in the historically accurate uniforms each participant creates, with painstaking attention to detail, for the event. From his pop-up studio situated on the battlefield, Faulkner has made dramatic and painterly portraits which evoke the forgotten faces of Waterloo and re-imagine moments of glory, of hope and defeat.
In the summer of 2015, to coincide with the 200th anniversary, Somerset House in London hosts an exhibition of the work. Curated by international stage director and designer Patrick Kinmonth, the exhibition presents 81 life-size images hung against a backdrop of Hainsworth fabric, the rich scarlet woollen cloth used to dress the ‘red-coat’ soldiers in 1815, still made today in exactly the same way at the original British mill.
‘Unseen Waterloo: The Conflict Revisited is my attempt to re-interpret and imagine the non-existent portraits from 1815. Waterloo is often cast as a battle between Great Men and certainly we’ve all seen the grand paintings of Napoleon and Wellington from the conflict, however we don’t have personal images of the men who actually fought and died that day. A hundred years later in the First World War, the fallen soldiers’ names are chiselled forever into granite in every town of Europe, but the forces of Waterloo are virtually unknown. This work attempts to reclaim the Battle of Waterloo for the valiant 200,000 who have been lost to history.’
Sam Faulkner 2015.
To find out more about the project, visit The Unseen Waterloo website