The following commemoration projects happened in 2016:
THE LONELY ANZAC-A MAN FAR FROM HOME. Brief story
Sargent Thomas Hunter of the 10th Battalion of the 10th Division of the Australian Army died in Peterborough Hospital on the 31st July 1916 after being shot in the spine at Pozieres on the 25th July as part of The Somme Campaign. Having been badly injured he was being transferred to a hospital in the north for treatment when he deteriorated on the train and was bought off the train to Peterborough Hospital now the museum where he died. He is thought to be the first ANZAC to die on British soil during WWI. The people of Peterborough took him to their hearts following his death raising a huge sum of money to have a full civic and military funeral on the 2nd August with a horse drawn hearse through the streets lined with thousands of residents. It was as if all the emotions for their own sons, fathers and husbands had gone into the grieving for this young man so far from home! His ghost is also reputed to haunt the existing museum. I am booked onto a ‘fright night’ at the museum as part of an official ghost hunt tour in April-The crazy life of an artist! He is buried at Broadway Cemetery a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The Heritage Lottery Then and Now fund have kindly funded the following project for 1916 through Peterborough City Council.
THE LONELY ANZAC BLANKET
This was the creation of a blanket to commemorate THE LONELY ANZAC that was laid on the war memorial at a service on the 31st July to wrap his memory in the warmth of the people of The City of Peterborough. Please see an image of a rough sketch-the centrepiece is of Peterborough including the museum, the cathedral, his memorial cross and a steam train that bought him to his place of death.
These centrepieces tell his story as THE BLANKET OF POPPIES tells the story of Edith Cavell and her life work and execution. Surrounding the centrepiece are poppies of remembrance with leaves and flags of some of the countries involved in WWI created by people from all different communities/countries in commemoration of this man so far from home! The bringing together of people in the Edith Cavell workshops was incredibly powerful for those involved, changing some of their lives and sharing stories with each other. This was an incredibly important part of the process and a huge amount of effort and focus goes into making this amazing for each participant. Each workshop also tells the story and more about Peterborough in WWI. The blanket was also be present at The Heritage Festival in 2016 with further opportunity to inform and learn.
THE QUEENSGATE SKY OF POPPIES Commissioned by Queensgate Shopping Centre Peterborough.
The Sky of Poppies – Raindrop poppies – the heaven’s open, raindrops are falling…
“This installation will be a visitor experience within North Square – the visitors will walk and see lots of poppies falling from the “sky” as if they were the souls of those lost looking and reaching out from heaven like raindrops and touching each visitor – signifying the connection that each and every person that was lost had on every person’s life who is still living now. Poppies are about life although being the iconic symbol of remembrance that we know so well and the installation will look more deeply beyond the deaths of so many men to hopefully include how the women lived on without their sons, husbands and fathers.The poppies also represent raindrops that will always fall despite the actions of man over historical time falling into pools of rainwater. Rain of course led to the swathes of mud so synonymous with the Somme.” Over 1000 poppies were individually handcrafted throughout the run up to the installation and included workshops with Charron Pugsley-Hill and collaborating Artisan Felter, Eve Marshall, to learn a new creative skill and engage with the project. The aim of these workshops was to ensure a broad spectrum of participants and contributors to represent the global connection of the battle in the current day. Each poppy will represent over 1000 casualties on The Somme – over a million casualties from all nationalities combined!
At the beginning of the Battle of the Somme there were military miners that created a series of craters when mining underground and laying explosives underneath the German positions. One of the largest craters is the Lochnagar crater – the largest crater ever made by man. It is almost 91m in diameter and 21m deep. It is now a poignant place of remembrance privately owned by a Briton to remember all people who suffered and lost lives in the war. It has been stated that the sound and feel of the explosions in these craters could be heard in London. Hence the possible inclusion of shells within the piece! This work was as much about engaging people in the process through creating poppies, the stories, the multicultural connection and family history as it was about the actual installation itself. This was an amazing opportunity to engage people in an experience of art within Queensgate’s centre. Previous work on Edith Cavell had shown the immense value of including people in this type of project – their involvement has been life changing for many! The names of all those who died at The Somme from Peterborough were listed around the square with the ethereal poppies hanging from above. This installation opened on 6th July 2016 with an emotional ceremony involving many ex-veterans and remained in place until mid November.4.5 million visitors walked under the installation whilst it was in place with huge numbers of positive comments on Social media.
Dada was an artistic and literary movement that began Switzerland in 1916. It arose as a reaction to World War I and the nationalism that many thought had led to the war. Irreverence was important in Dada art, whether a lack of respect for bourgeois convention, government authorities, conventional production methods, or more traditional art of the time.Dada art was usually unplanned without much preparatory work, often incorporated everyday items and humour and irony. Irony also gave the artists flexibility and expressed their embrace of the craziness of the world stopping them from taking themselves or their work too seriously or from getting caught up in excessive enthusiasm or dreams of utopia. I did not have time to create something in the dadist sale in 2016 but I still hope to do something before the end of the series. Artist-in-Residence Somme Centenary Weekend. I also visited the Somme in April for research and then again over the centenary where I was hosted by The Great War Society. This residency included the capture of many photographic images and also the creation of THE FLOWERS OF THE SOMME-inspired by the flowers of the land and those present in the cemeteries over the centenary weekend.
THE FLOWERS OF THE SOMME Original Painting in acrylics, metallics and fine glitters