Shrouded fig­ures hon­our Somme fallen

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - News -

Thou­sands of shrouded fig­ures rep­re­sent­ing sol­diers killed in the Bat­tle of the Somme have been laid out for an art in­stal­la­tion in London.

Artist Rob Heard hand stitched and bound the cal­ico cov­er­ing 72,396 fig­ures now ly­ing on an area about the size of a foot­ball pitch at Queen El­iz­a­beth Olympic Park.

Each 12in fig­ure rep­re­sents a named Com­mon­wealth sol­dier who died on the Somme bat­tle­fields be­tween 1916 and 1918 but has no known grave.

Vol­un­teers and mem­bers of 1 Royal Anglian Reg­i­ment laid out the field of fig­ures in hun­dreds of rows in the shadow of the London Sta­dium.

It took Mr Heard 18 months to them, of­ten work­ing 12 to 14 hours a day. He said the “ab­so­lute key” to his cre­ation was that ev­ery fig­ure rep­re­sented a named fallen sol­dier, many of whose bod­ies were never re­cov­ered.

“I found quite early on that I per­son­ally had quite a strong re­la­tion­ship with these men, in that I had huge lists of their names, pho­to­graphs and phys­i­cal fig­ures them­selves,” Mr Heard said.

“I think the idea they are still lay­ing out in the fields be­ing turned by the plough each year now, if we could bring them back and lay them on home soil just one more time in a small way, I felt that was re­ally im­por­tant.”

More than 200,000 peo­ple are ex­pected to visit the free-toen­ter in­stal­la­tion which runs un­til Novem­ber 18. Mem­bers of the pub­lic will be able to pur­chase the fig­ures, with prof­its go­ing to SSAFA The Armed Forces Char­ity and the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Foun­da­tion.

The in­stal­la­tion has been un­veiled as peo­ple prepare to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War on Ar­mistice Day, Novem­ber 11.

The Bat­tle of the Somme was one of the blood­i­est of the 1914 to 1918 con­flict, claim­ing the lives of around 20,000 Bri­tish sol­diers on the first day alone.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.