Artist Christine Jones provides the background and inspiration behind her new film ‘Spain: Still Cause’. The documentary features first-hand testimonies from people directly affected by the Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship, and highlights their continued activism today.
From the initial beginnings of my work on this subject to the film's completion it has been quite a journey, and a real privilege to meet and know the people featured and others over the years. I began working on this subject in 2010 when I stumbled upon a photograph by Gerda Taro. At that point I knew nothing of her, and very little about the Spanish Civil War and dictatorship. It then developed from there. I secured some funding to make a research trip to Spain in 2011, and it was quite a tangential project at that time. I visited sites related to Gerda Taro, met with people in historical memory associations, and others (protest singer and local historians), and with them visited mass graves and other significant sites connected to the civil war and dictatorship.
As an artist it was a real shift in the kind of work I'd previously made, and has been so impactful on me personally. I had an exhibition in 2014 in Falkirk, Scotland where I was living at the time, with a programme of events, which included drawings of the people I met, research material, photographs etc, and a limited edition publication. I also made a memorial plaque which travels across Spain with people documenting themselves holding it, which I then add to a site dedicated to the memorial.
I arranged talks by Irme Schaber, the main authority on Taro, as well as organising a screening of The Mexican Suitcase. I realised at the time that a film might be a good development to really let these people be heard in their own words and to share more directly my own experience of meeting and hearing these histories for the first time. The film is also intended as an introduction to the subject to many people here who are not familiar with this recent history.
I gained further funding in 2016 from Creative Scotland to travel to Spain and make the film, which was very welcome, however I did also have to self-fund much of it, which meant it did take longer than I'd planned. I also had invaluable support from others who travelled with me at their own expense to support and translate. Before the 'lockdown' I'd been working on arranging screenings, but with this new situation I felt that I didn't want to delay it any further. The plan was that with any screenings some of those featured in the film would travel here to take part in Q&As. We hope that still might be possible in the future, but for now hope that the film can be seen and shared widely, as it is as important as ever to share these experiences and hear these voices.
'Spain: Still Cause' can be watched online here.
Posted on 9 April 2020.