At Home: A Living Centenary 1914-2014

Swiss Cottage Gallery past exhibitions: 2014


By Nicola Lane

18.10 – 12.11 2014


Artist filmmaker Nicola Lane’s mother Diana was born in Cyprus on 15th August 1914, the month and year WWI was declared. Her soldier father departed for campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean and France. Diana did not meet him until 1918, after he had been wounded at the Somme.

Recently Nicola discovered a photograph of Diana and her first husband in their house in Cyprus, celebrating Diana’s 20th birthday at a formal 'luncheon' with officers from the Mediterranean Fleet. Research indicates that the photograph was taken when the Mediterranean Fleet visited Famagusta in 1934, as increasing unrest in the Middle East & Europe foreshadowed the conflicts of World War 2.

Birthday Lunch Party 1934 (c) Nicola Lane
Birthday Lunch Party 1934 (c) Nicola Lane

The glamorous lunch guests and that world have vanished. Memory loss has fragmented Diana’s past and present, and in her 100th year the important people in her world are the carers and healthcare professionals enabling her to live at home.

On July 17th 2014, the 1934 photograph of Diana’s 20th birthday lunch party was re-enacted in Swiss Cottage Gallery, the photograph’s settings re-created by Nicola and her creative team. Nicola invited Diana’s carers, District Nurses, London Ambulance paramedics, A&E nurses and other healthcare professionals to celebrate Diana's Centenary by re-enacting the lunch party with a menu selected from her 1930’s housekeeping scrapbook, cooked by local chef Beatriz Rodriguez and served by volunteers. The re-enactment was filmed from start to finish, visible to Swiss Cottage Library’s public through the Gallery’s glass doors.

At Home Lunch Party (c) Nicola Lane
At Home Lunch Party (c) Nicola Lane

From this material Nicola created a ‘Living Centenary’ installation in Swiss Cottage Gallery. Photography, sound recordings and the projected film of the Centenary lunch party were accompanied by a programme of talks and events, with the lunch table and its 12 chairs used as a platform for discussion and audience interaction.

Through the relic of the photograph and its re-enactment, audiences and participants could explore the enduring vigour of human contact and the power of relics and archives within history and living memory.

Click here for an overview of our gallery programme and archive!

swiss home