Hedd Wyn, image Andy Sayle
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE GATHER ON BEACHES AROUND THE UK FOR DANNY BOYLE’S ARMISTICE DAY COMMISSION.
On 11 November, tens of thousands of people took part in Pages of the Sea – a commission by filmmaker Danny Boyle inviting people to gather on thirty-two beaches around the UK for a nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War. The work marks the culmination of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
- Pages of the Sea is the largest simultaneous coastal arts project to take place in the UK.
- Taking place on Armistice Day, the project saw tens of thousands of people join in a series of community-led events on thirty-two beaches around the country.
- At Colwyn Bay a large-scale portrait of Hedd Wyn was drawn into the sand and engagement activities included creating a Memorial Wall of messages and local stories
- Over XXXX people experienced the project online, watching the activity on the beaches via social media.
- A new, inclusive and collaborative way to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to the First World War.
Colwyn Bay saw 6000 members of the public engaging in a series of community-led events commemorating the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.
A large-scale portrait of Hedd Wyn, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, was drawn into the sand and washed away as the tide came in – representing a small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war. The portraits featured across the thirty-two were chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of stories – ordinary people who gave their lives to the War effort, from doctors to munition workers, Privates to Lieutenants and Majors. A number of the portraits were of notable war poets, who translated the experience of war for those at home. Many were from the regions or communities they were depicted in, with others from towns, cities and international communities not featured to show the scale of loss.
In addition, the public were asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict as well as adding family names or names from their community which were also washed away by the tide.
Poet Carol Anne Duffy was also invited by Danny Boyle to write a poem to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. The poem, The Wound in Time, was read by individuals, families and communities as they gathered on Colwyn Bay beach on 11 November. Cards were distributed on beaches featuring over 14,000 different images of casualties from the First World War drawn from records held on the Pages of the Sea website, which includes records uploaded by the public. The images were also drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ website, which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website have been adding their own portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War: www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org
The project’s Resource Centre at Porth Eirias was a hub of activity throughout the day with the public able to watch drone photographs and video of the beach portrait as well as contribute to the Memorial Wall and participate in post-card embroidery. Poetry workshops contributed to a recorded soundscape that also included English and Welsh readings of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem. Staff and resources on hand to help people trace information on relatives that fought in the First World War alongside numerous books on the War and on Hedd Wyn, the subject of the sand portrait. Ceramic plaques, copies of WWI ‘Death Pennies’ recreated by local schoolchildren were also exhibited.
Danny Boyle said: “Beaches are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide. They were the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War. I invited communities to come together and watch as the faces of the fallen were drawn in the sand and to remember the sacrifices they made.”
Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “Danny Boyle has devised a truly memorable project – directed and inspired by local communities all around our coastline. Pages of the Sea is a fitting tribute to the millions of men and women who lost their lives in the First World War.”
“14-18 NOW extends a huge thank you to Danny Boyle and to all our partners and volunteers who made this project such a success”.
Pages of the Sea was commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW and is the culmination of the five-year programme of arts commissions marking the First World War centenary. It was delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Sunderland Culture; Taliesin. The work is in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre; The Grand Theatre of Lemmings; Magna Vitae; MOSTYN; SeaChange Arts; Swansea Council; Swansea University; Theatre Orchard; and Visit Blackpool. Each partner organisation was invited to create their own event centering around the sand art on the beach and reading of the poem, tailored to reflect the sacrifices of their local community. The community engagement programme for Pages of the Sea is supported by the Big Lottery Fund.
Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.
For further press information please contact Erica Bolton, Bolton & Quinn:
Erica@boltonquinn.com 020 7221 5000