Zipped Up Blues, HD video, 20 minutes, 2022


Zipped Up Blues, short excerpt.

Matthew Burdis (Newcastle, 1993) cuts the memories of a Northumbrian police officer, sent to search the Kielder Forest for wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 when it exploded over Lockerbie, to a sequence of period photographs. His camera inches over these images just as the speaker searched the forest floor, his colleague coming upon a flight attendant’s jacket that still carried a trace of her perfume; a most delicate work.” - Laura Cumming, The Guardian, 28/01/24

In Zipped Up Blues my dad recalls his memories of searching for the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103, after the aeroplane was destroyed by a bomb during its scheduled flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York City on December 21st, 1988, in what is often referred to as the Lockerbie Bombing.

The fuselage crashed into Sherwood Crescent in Lockerbie and the nose cone came down on a hill outside of the town in Tundergarth. No passengers or crew survived this terrorist attack and an additional eleven residents in Lockerbie were killed.

The heavy wreckage landed in Lockerbie and it subsequently transpired that the remaining wreckage covered an area of 850 square-miles, including the Northumbrian fells, which brought it into the remit of Northumbria Police.

Each piece of wreckage no matter how small was evidence and had to be treated as such.

My dad was part of the Northumbria Police Special Patrol Group that spent just over one month searching these fells.

Audio recordings of my dad are combined with photographs, maps and cartoon imagery all connected to this time period of his life. These memories are bound to the physical items recovered on those fells and the sensory experiences that entailed.

Whilst centered primarily around the Lockerbie Bombing he meanders through his memories discussing the nature and definitions of searching, touching on the IRA bombing at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, 1984, ahead of the Conservative Party conference, to search training at military barracks during the height of The Troubles, whilst living in the aftermath of a post-miners’ strike Newcastle.

These lived through times and recollections are often activated by a detailed description of a seemingly innocuous tangible item connected to an event.

Film Festivals:
UPCOMING: Alchemy Film & Arts Festival, Hawick, Scotland, Zipped Up Blues *Official Selection* + Q&A, May 2024

Selected exhibitions:
New Contemporaries 2023, Camden Arts Centre, London, January - April 2024
New Contemporaries 2023, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, September - December 2023
New Contemporaries 2023, online platform, September 2023 - April 2024