“Kipling’s poignant poem recounting the plea of a Roman centurion begging not to be sent back to Rome after forty years of service ‘from Vectis to the Wall’ has haunted me for over twenty years. It’s a reminder of people making homes far away from their natal lands, of daily experience in a landscape that is both exquisite and unforgiving, and of military power.”
In August 2009, Isabella was appointed as lead artist for Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site working in collaboration with Inspire Northumberland and Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd. to respond to Britain’s largest and greatest heritage structure.
After travelling the Wall Corridor, which extends 150 miles from South Shields on the East coast to Ravenglass on the West coast of Cumbria, and discovering the diverse and rich heritage that surrounds Hadrian’s Wall and the concept of the Roman Frontier, she developed a proposal for a number of works, incorporating concepts of military strategics; language; international frontiers; sites of boundary invisible and visible; and reconstruction. Completed works include multi-spectral video work Scintilla, The Model (exhibited as part of Requisite, her solo exhibition at Alderman Fenwick’s House in 2012), a limited edition print Iron Curtain (featured), and performance piece The Enlistment, some of which feature in her 2012 publication Back Room Experiments and Other Experiments.
Finding many memorials along the Wall to soldiers serving in the recent Afghan Wars inspired me to produce The Enlistment, a durational performance piece. The Enlistment is a morally inquisitive work, calling on the audience to examine their consciences in collective responsibility. Artist and audience together perform an act of spoken remembrance in enlisting and memorising the names of the dead. Performed in the ‘wrong’ place, the work becomes a political challenge with a potentially criminal penalty attached.