Great War tree sculp­ture takes root at Kelv­in­grove

Evening Times - - NEWS - By AN­DREW McQUARRIE

A SCULP­TURE de­pict­ing the last re­main­ing tree in the First World War has been put on dis­play in Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery.

The un­veil­ing came just days be­fore the cen­te­nary of the Bat­tle of Ar­ras, which in­volved more Scots than any other bat­tle.

The niece of a sol­dier who died at the Bat­tle of Ar­ras praised the sculp­ture as a sym­bol of hope and re­gen­er­a­tion.

Called FRANCE 1914, the sculp­ture was do­nated to char­ity by its cre­ator, Si­mon Burns-Cox, who took up sculpt­ing af­ter suf­fer­ing a brain haem­or­rhage 21 years ago.

Si­mon, 54, said: “I wanted to do some­thing about the First World War and this felt like the right thing for it. This is a sym­bol of the imag­i­nary last tree stand­ing on the battlefield.

“I be­lieve in sup­port­ing the Armed Forces in any way I can, as these peo­ple have put their lives on the line for us. Per­haps I also iden­tify with those who have suf­fered as I have been ill my­self, which re­sulted in life-chang­ing con­se­quences but also led to me be­com­ing a sculp­tor.”

When he was 33, Si­mon suf­fered a brain haem­or­rhage which left him with a 50% chance of sur­vival and meant he re­quired seven op­er­a­tions on his brain.

As he was re­cov­er­ing, he de­cided to take up stone carv­ing and went to Rome for three years to per­fect his art.

Lieu­tenant Colonel He­len Homewood, whose un­cle Sergeant John Ersk­ine from Dun­fermline died at the Bat­tle of Ar­ras aged 23, was most im- pressed by the sculp­tor’s work.

She said it was an “ex­tremely tactile piece” which sym­bol­ised na­ture’s abil­ity to with­stand man’s de­struc­tive forces.

Mark Bibbey, head of Pop­pyscot­land, said: “Si­mon’s sculp­ture is a strik­ing and poignant piece of work and we were ex­cep­tion­ally grate­ful that he chose to gift it to Pop­pyscot­land. I am quite sure that the year spent at the Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery and Mu­seum will open up this fan­tas­tic sculp­ture to a whole new au­di­ence, ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about a bat­tle that has of­ten been over­looked in re­la­tion to others.”

Af­ter stints in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and the Peo­ple’s Palace Mu­seum, Glas­gow, the sculp­ture will be on dis­play for a year be­fore mov­ing to Glas­gow’s River­side Mu­seum.

It will then be sold at auc­tion to raise funds for Pop­pyscot­land, a char­ity which sup­ports ex-Ser­vice peo­ple, their fam­i­lies and de­pen­dents.

Lieu­tenant Colonel He­len Homewood next to the sculp­ture France 1914 by the artist Si­mon Burns-Cox that has been in­stalled at Kelv­in­grove Mu­seum and Art Gallery. Lieut. Col. Homewood’s un­cle, Sgt. John Ersk­ine VC, above, fought and died on the Ar­ras...

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