"Clarice's diary includes accounts of shocking injuries, and of the distress of men wounded and gassed, all set down in plain and seemingly unemotional prose:
‘Dec 21st 1915: Gas boy died’; Jan 2nd 1916: Men had eyes removed’." (Gill Saunders, 2012)
Clarice began writing a diary, initially full of expectation and excitement, as she prepared to leave her Ramsgate home. The record of her journey soon darkened as she became witness to the horrors unfolding on the Western Front. What is striking to the modern reader is not the graphic detail of the what is written, television images and horror stories now sanitise much of our emotional reaction, it is what is clearly absent from the diary. The causality that sets in so early in the account, the horrors being witnessed quickly becomes the everyday, matter-of-fact, as though normal occurrence for a young women of the time.
The diary gives an insight to the way of thought and perception of the times. It is arguable that the role women played in society was entering the most revolutionary in modern human history, and Clarice's diary captures part of the story. There is no talk of boys or men, above patients and the odd car journey from 'a Tommy', there is little intimacy within the words yet it is rich with how Clarice and her friends viewed themselves and their situation.
Using pillowcases as a representation of the suffering of Clarice’s charges, the project draws in the viewer to consider aspects of the war that is more often left untold; from the viewpoint of a young woman on the frontline, taken from her own words. The diary will be explored through movement, spoken word, film, sound and handmade pillowcases, representing the place many of the men Clarice nursed, rested their heads for the last time.