This post forms part of my initial research for my project proposal.

Lesions in the Landscape is a video installation with an immersive sound piece. I became inspired by this piece through my own struggles with memory after a period of illness.

Claire, struggling with amnesia and memory loss through encephalitis causing a lesion in her brain resulting in the inability to remember the past, make new long term memories and remember faces.

“The past existing as a space you can’t enter or feel; the future a space you can’t imagine.”(Claire, 2013)

Illingworth collaborated with Claire over a long period of time and melded the struggles that Claire was facing with the historical struggles of the community on the island of St Kilda, now a derelict and forgotten land with only formally recorded recollection of memories written in books about the island.

Parallels are drawn between Claire’s abrupt loss of memory with the abrupt evacuation of St Kilda in 1930 and subsequently the loss of it’s cultural heritage as the island became uninhabited. She weaves her own experiences with that of the island and the community using metaphor as her tool for her visual communication.

In this piece of work Illingworth is keen to show St Kilda in it’s current place in history as a MOD Weapons Testing range with a large radar installation and even the act of genetically mapping a species of sheep.

Although appearing outwardly uninhabited, having a life that continues, albeit without the historical community that was forcibly moved from there in the 1930’s. Very relevant still in today’s climate of migration.

Questioning how we are remembered when we are gone and what version of our history exists beyond our own existence. Claire’s experience of personal memory relies on and is influenced by the perceptions of the people around her.

Her Amnesia Museum is portrayed as an archive of forgetting, using photographs and other documentation to map amnesia as it develops in the present and can be imagined in the future.

“You can’t imagine the future if you don’t have memory…And if you don’t have a diversity of memory, then in some senses you inhibit the capacity to imagine the future” (Shona Illingworth, 2015).

An analogy for the neurological experience of amnesia, the ‘island with inaccessible cultural memory’, embodies the phenomenon of lost connection and without memory it is not possible to imagine the future.

Memory is so intrinsic to our identity – both on a personal level, as is the case with Claire, just as it is with a community of island dwellers from St Kilda. If there is no-one there to remember them, how does the island exist in the public consciousness, and in what way is their history told? Which version of them lives on and how is the future of the island constructed?


CGP London (2016). CGP London | The gallery by the pool | Lesions in the Landscape. [online] CGP London. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Film London (2016). Shona Illingworth, Lesions in the Landscape, 2016, excerpt. [online] Vimeo. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Hawkins, K. (n.d.). Lesions in the Landscape by Shona Illingworth. A report from FACT Liverpool. [online] Digicult | Digital Art, Design and Culture. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Illingworth, S. (n.d.). Lesions in the Landscape – Shona Illingworth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Illingworth, S. (n.d.). The Amnesia Museum. [online] FACT. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

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