This piece has been submitted by local artist Andrew Tatham about his forthcoming exhiibtion in Ypres.
Starting from a single 11”x 8” First World War group photograph, I have created an exhibition that fills a hall two full tennis courts in size. Having tracked down relatives of all 46 men in the photograph, I have been able to get a view on the long-term effects of the War for the families of both casualties and survivors, and that is what informs my artwork.
It is the first time that internationally renowned In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres has hosted an exhibition of this magnitude where the content has almost entirely been generated by an external contributor. That they have done so is testament not just to the fruits of the
21 years of research undertaken, but also to innovative new ways of presenting history, in particular the history of the First World War and its relevance to us living today. As well as traditional displays of the interesting and sometimes astonishing letters, photographs & artefacts that I discovered in my research, there are major artworks:
- an animated film that shows the men’s family trees growing over 136 years with contemporary pictures and music and the passing of the seasons
- a 34 metre wide vista of the men’s family trees growing in a landscape with their ancestral roots going back 100 years before the First World War and the branches depicting their parents’ descendants growing up to today
- a monumental construction 3 metres high and 9 metres wide presenting contemporary “stained glass window” portraits for each of the 46 men
- photomontages showing every picture found of the men’s faces as well as their memorials (including over 1500 photographs).
The final piece in the exhibition is a new group photograph showing these men’s families today. 150 relatives from 22 of the men’s families are travelling from across the UK and as far afield as Canada and South Africa to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Loos. On 25th September 1915 many of the men in the group photograph fought and died in what at the time was the biggest battle ever fought by the British Army. That battle has since been largely forgotten, but this exhibition remembers these men as if they were part of all our families.
Exhibition open to the public from 27th September 2015 to 3rd January 1916 at In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium.