The Centennial of the Great War over the past four years has been remarkable for the twenty first century artistic creativity which has produced a series of unique and unforgettable public displays remembering the casualties of the conflict.
Designed by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was a display of 888,246 ceramic poppies which reached around the Tower of London. Each poppy represented one British or colonial casualty of the First World War. The first poppy was planted on 17th July 2014 and the final one was put in place on 11th November 2014. A team of about 17,500 volunteers worked in setting up the display.
After the display had been dismantled, the poppies were sold at £25 each and raised in excess of £15 million for six ex-service charities. The Weeping Window and The Wave were two elements of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which have been on display at different venues around the country. Currently, they can be seen at the Imperial War Museum in London until mid November 2018.
The twin themes of remembrance though contemporary art and raising money for ex-service charities is now continuing in the weeks leading up to the Centennial of the Armistice.
The There But Not There registered charity was inspired by 51 clear Perspex silhouettes which were placed by Martin Barraud at Penshurst church in Kent during 2016. The project has now become a national campaign to mark the end of World War 1 and the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on 11th November 2018. The charity is aiming to raise a further £15 million for six ex-service charities.
Six foot tall metal silhouettes of a Tommy have also been appearing in public places across the length and breadth of the country. They have appeared in such diverse locations as the sentry boxes at the Tower of London
the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland
the Big Pit National Coal Museum in South Wales.
and the Hearts Football Club Ground in Edinburgh, Scotland.
(Ref: all 4 pictures above are courtesy of: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5441789/WWI-sculpture-campaign-launched-raise-15m-charity.html)
Local authorities and community groups have been encouraged to buy the full size statues for display in public places. Individuals are able to purchase their own 10” high Perspex replica which can also be personalised with the name of family member who was a casualty of the Great War.
Yesterday, our own pilgrimage took us to the South Foreland Lighthouse up on the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. The two mile walk along the cliff path to the lighthouse was an undulating trek but at the end was the most welcome “Mrs Knotts tearoom”. Mrs Knott was the Lighthouse keepers wife around a century ago. This is where we were able to sit with ‘George’ and enjoy a cup of tea with him. Three other silhouettes were place around the tearoom giving us the opportunity to also have a private chat with them and offer our thanks for their sacrifice.
We would recommend that everyone seeks out these “Tommies” which are a very poignant sight . A table top personal version is available for purchase from the “There But Not There” website https://www.therebutnotthere.org.uk/
“We Will Remember Them”.