Every summer thousands of people from all over the world gather in a Kentish field and leave the present firmly behind. They step out of their routine daily lives and transform into historical characters from the First and Second World Wars, often with such vigour and obsessive attention to detail that it's hard to imagine them in contemporary settings. Taking on a different name, identity and sometimes even a different tongue, the role players re-enact battles and drills from an imagined past. It is something more than acting, a collective fantasy played out on a massive scale.
Naughten creates a striking contrast between the cold, pale backdrop of his portable studio and the sharpness of his sitters' forms. They stare past the viewer as though into the past. Their costumes are detailed and accurate, but present them as part of a unit - be it military units, the masses of young evacuees or the women left behind - thus stripping them of individuality and feeling. This causes one to question these subjects' identities, thoughts and purpose, and comments on the dehumanizing nature of war.