landscape

Exploring Time in an overgrown tangle of historical remnants.

Part 2  Abstract Landscapes.

This series of images focuses on the concept of time: time passed and time present. An overgrown tangle of historical remnants - a working quarry, penal camp, film set and now a natural sanctuary for wildlife.

A few months ago I visited Krakow and although Auschwitz was on my agenda, it was the Liban Quarry that was my first destination. Lying overgrown and abandoned, slowly evolving into a nature sanctuary for a cacophony of wildlife, it looks and feels forgotten. Encircled by huge dramatic limestone cliffs, the quarry is hard to find, but if you forage your way through the thick tangle of undergrowth you will discover what lies hidden within.

Eerie, chilling remnants of a concentration camp lie engulfed by trees and grasses. Barbed wire, fence posts, gravestones and rusty refinery tanks emerge from the undergrowth. A silent reminder of its chilling past. One may easily be misled into thinking this was the site for the Polish WW2 concentration camp, HOWEVER, it is not.

In 1993 Steven Spielberg used Liban as the film set for all the scenes from Schindler's List that take place in the Plaszow Concentration Camp. During filming 34 barracks and watchtowers were set-up around the quarry, and though most of the set was subsequently removed, some traces remain confusingly mixed with the genuine historical leftovers from the war.

The Liban quarry WAS however a penal camp where 800 young Poles suffered at the hands of their cruel Nazi captors whilst incarcerated from 1942 - 1944. Beatings and death were dealt out liberally. A small, hardly visible, monument exists at the Za Torem side of the quarry to 21 inmates executed when the camp was liberated.

The quarry itself dates back to 1873, and was established by two well known Jewish families from Podgorze for limestone for the production of quicklime. By the end of the 19th century a series of buildings were erected within the quarry and a railway line laid as the families enjoyed an excellent reputation locally and abroad. What remains today certainly makes it very confusing when trying to decipher what remnant dates to which period of history.

To me the quarry is a strange evocative place; it plays with your emotions. I found myself struggling with the horror of its past whilst stumbling over remnants of a film set, juxtaposed with occasional historical relics of its true past. Yet despite this tangle of emotions I also found it very beautiful and peaceful.