The research underpinning this installation focused on the history of the English Civil War and the legacy of Oliver Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland – constitutional, social and political. This included archival and web-based research undertaken to explore the perception of Cromwell in Northern Ireland, including fieldwork in Belfast to document photographically the public murals and depictions of Cromwell on protestant houses across the city.
Cornford & Cross were invited by Meadow Arts to make a work at The Commandery museum in Worcester, the site of the defining battle of the English Civil War in 1651. It Happened Here continues their commitment to site-specific installations and builds on memorial associations with the landscape, such as those explored in Jerusalem (a war memorial for a conflict that did not take place) and Words are not enough (a peace garden positioned above a nuclear bunker).
By removing the formal courtyard garden in The Commandery and replacing it with turf specially transported from County Derry/Londonderry in Ulster, a key convention of the English landscape is used to comment upon a historical trauma. This installation conceals overtly political gestures and functions instead as an anti-sensationalist counter-monument, which is a counterpoint to the regimentation of the war memorials, also touching on themes of collective memory, history and national identity.
It Happened Here has received over 70,000 visitors and is accessible to the public as a permanent installation. The research findings from this project have been presented at conferences at the British Library, the University of Brighton and Camberwell College of Arts. The installation has also been used as a significant discussion point for Peter Seddon, in an article for the Journal of Visual Arts Practice (2011, 10: 3, pp. 263–274).