REMLA: ‘The Expedition’ (Sophie Jones)

October 12, 2017by sophiejonesNewsRoyal Engineers Museum and Archive (17/18)


As part of our external project, we have been given the opportunity to work with a selected client on a professional brief they have proposed. For this, I have chosen to work with the Royal Engineers Museum and Archive (REMLA), where I have been given the chance to work within the museum to produce a piece of work that responds to the environment. The Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive is a military engineering museum and library in Gillingham, Kent; that “tells the story of the Corps of Royal Engineers and how they have helped the British Army live, move and fight for over 300 years”. My decision to work as an artist in residence for the museum was based mostly in an interest in its archival material, as the museum contains a vast collection of photographs, diaries and journals that “covers the history of the Corps of Royal Engineers from its origins to the present day.” (, 2017)

For the ‘Exposure’ unit, following the Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive proposal, I have produced a journal that documents an expedition by a group of Royal Engineers, to an unspecified location. For this project, it was my intention to produce a piece of work that highlighted some of the narratives within the Royal Engineers archive, and to engage an audience to reflect on these narratives as the stories of individuals. As my project has developed however, it has instead become a hybrid of these narratives, following two different stories as if they were one. With this, it has become more focused on the idea of storytelling, yet retains some thoughts of discovering narratives through past artefacts, that I feel has continually echoed throughout my development. Throughout this unit, I have had to consider what it means to work for an external professional client, as an artist in residence, alongside the pressures of working under a shorter time limit.

For my final submission, I produced an A4 black journal that featured 35 colourised images, taken from both the journals of C.W.L. Mason and Lucy Mary Isabel Thompson, which equally follow a loose narrative of travel and exploration. It is from here that the title, “The Expedition” was created, as the assortment of material alluded to “a journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose”, yet the openness of the work leaves the who and why, entirely up to interpretation. By contrasting the images from Mason’s time in Mombasa, Kenya in 1942-43, and Thompson’s from across Europe during 1918-19, I established my own narrative, while also creating an interesting contrast between two very different locations and times. Additionally, this structure also allowed the colourisation to feature more efficiently, by providing a way to lead the narrative, while also making the images look as though they were taken together. Overall, I feel as though this project was a success, although I wish I had had more time to fully progress my ideas, especially as it seemed to come together more at the end of the time limit. That being said, if I decide on any alterations, there is a period before the Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive exhibition in January to make changes.

Sophie Jones

References: (2017). Royal Engineers Museum | It’s bigger than you think!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Sep. 2017].