The following commemoration projects are confirmed for 1916:
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
These centrepieces will tell his story as THE BLANKET OF POPPIES tells the story of Edith Cavell and her life work and execution. Surrounding the centrepiece will be poppies of remembrance with leaves and flags possibly 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 is 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 will also tell the story and more about Peterborough in WWI.
The blanket may also be present at The Heritage Festival in 2016 with further opportunity to inform and learn and other events associated with The Somme.
THE QUEENSGATE SKY OF POPPIES Commissioned by Queensgate Shopping Centre Peterborough.
The Sky of Poppies – Raindrop poppies – the heaven’s open, raindrops are falling…
1000 poppies will be individually handcrafted throughout the run up to the installation and will include 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 would be to ensure a broad spectrum of participants and contributors to represent the global connection of the battle in the current day. We shall have a countdown during the time of the project so please follow me on my Facebook Art page to see the progression of the poppies needed!
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 is as much about engaging people in the process through creating poppies, the stories, the multicultural connection and family history as it is about the actual installation itself. This is an amazing opportunity to engage people in an experience of art within Queensgate’s centre. Previous work on Edith Cavell has shown the immense value of including people in this type of project – their involvement has been life changing for many!
This installation is planned to open on the 24th June 2016 and will remain in place until mid November.
I will be visiting the Somme in April for research and then again over the centenary where I will be hosted by The Great War Society to paint their encampment and landscapes of The Somme.