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Evacuation 1940

Series of 19 photo artworks

Evacuation 1940 is a photo story by artist John Paul Bichard that reflects on the fate of his family in World War 2 through the fragments and traces that remain. Taking their story as a starting point, Bichard collaborated with the vintage community in Stockholm to reflect upon his own identity, feelings of loss and the universal need to capture and re-tell a part of his history through the remains of his families past.

Edna Myrtle Sylvia Bichard (née Pezet) was my grandmother: an inspiration and beloved friend who I dearly miss. She married Charles Henslip Bichard, a watchmaker and jeweller and had two children: Sylvia and my father, John. Together they lived in a Georgian town house just around the corner from the family jewellery shop in Alderney’s sole town, St Anne’s.

Alderney is the third smallest of the Channel Islands, that lie just off the French coast of Normandy and have been a part of the United Kingdom since William the Conqueror invaded Britain in the 11th century. It is where my family is from: a tiny, beautiful, peaceful island with a quiet, independent, rural and old-fashioned population.

On 23rd June 1940, the church bells rang signaling the islanders to pack their cases and said goodbye to their homes. They had no idea where they were headed nor how long they would be gone. Each adult was allowed to take with them one suitcase and had two hours to get to the harbour and board the awaiting ships.

Two weeks earlier, with the fall of France and after the British Government had made the decision to demilitarise the Channel Islands leaving them open for occupation by the advancing German Army, the 1400 islanders had voted unanimously to leave their island.

Three people remained to take care of the cows that were transported to nearby Guernsey.

This work explores the traces of a brief moment in the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation through stories told and re-told since childhood: of loss, adventure, hardship and endurance.

 

A Bichard production

Shot on Location in Stockholm Sweden July – August 2011

Special thanks to:
The models:
Hannah Hernegran, Taygun Erbayraktar
Åsa Strandberg, Caroline Engström, Fanny Kellerman
Fräulein Frauke, Hans Rosenberg, Johanna Åkerblom
Johannes Harg, Karin Wennerberg, Leili Man Der
Lisa Mobrand and Panda Pym, Miriam Parkman
Sandra Abi-Khalil, Wiktor Södersten,

Fräulein Frauke for her support and collaboration.

John RP Bichard and Sylvia Guilmoto (my father and aunt) for their recollections of the evacuation.

Sjöhistoriska Museet Stockholm – for the use of their fabulous vintage ships.

In loving memory of Edna and Charles Bichard.

All images and footage are copyright John Paul Bichard 2011-2012. All rights reserved