Over the summer I worked on a commission for Newcastle City Council to mark the hundred years since the declaration of the war on Europe on the 4th August 2014. This was the first outdoor public artwork I have made and with only two weeks to come up with something, make it and deliver, it was quite a challenge.
While I was carrying out a residency with the libraries last year, I discovered such a thing called Silks… which are essentially silk embroidered postcards which were made by women at home and sent to their loved ones on the front line. It was an object that seemed specific to World War One, as developments in the print industry allowed for cheaper ways of sending mail by the time WW2 came around. As my head is stuck in silk at the moment I really wanted to explore the idea of using silk for this work too and perhaps extend some of the ideas I have been working through with mending, fixing, wrapping and protecting objects.
My response to the memorial focuses on the ideas of unity, of soldiers wrapping up themselves, both mentally and physically to prepare themselves for war, of their families embracing them as they leave, of the gifts and keepsakes that they are given. Rituals of wrapping objects, wrapping memories is one that translates across all cultures, anywhere, anytime but especially in a time of hope and loss. The cloth is a marker for life, we begin our life wrapped as a bundle and we end it wrapped in a shroud, preserving our bodies and soul.
I worked with Louise Gregory (who I had worked with on making the set for Flock by ZENDEH) to create the right lighting, with each light dimming from the hour between 10pm and 11pm.
Photos by Colin Davison