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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-14-04

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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WW1 soldiers remembered in poignant art installation

AN Edge Hill University academic has created a multimedia art installation remembering soldiers from the First World War.

Professor Helen Newall's work provides a powerful visual and sensory experience which brings the soldiers depicted in salvaged original photographs back to our attention in the present. Audiences will be able to experience the installation, entitled:- 'Remember' Me, at the University's annual:- 'Festival of Ideas,' in June 2017, and at other North West locations in the coming months, including the Cheshire Military Museum, Chester in July 2017.

After initially collecting original photographs of soldiers to use in projections as part of her acclaimed First World War play:- 'Silent Night,' Helen then embarked on what began as a personal project to create the installation. The constantly evolving piece was recently set up for members of the public to experience at Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire, where visitors hailed it emotive, powerful and thought provoking.

Helen Newall said:- "I have been collecting original photographs of Great War soldiers from antique shops and auctions for a while. As some commentators on First World War photography have noted, these men often had photographs taken for the first time because they thought it might be the last time they would get the chance. It really bothered me that I didn't know who the people in these photos were, and I sought to change the people in the pictures from valuable collectible 'objects' back into subjects again. The work is a tension between the old technology of glass plate cameras; the chemical processes used to create cardboard photographic objects, and the new digital processes that make virtual images that often exist only in computer pixels and clouds and streams."

As well as visual projections and soundscapes, the installation, described by Professor Newall as a 'miniature museum,’ also features physical photographs and relics from the trenches including a German bullet and a Vest Pocket Kodak camera, used by a soldier.

Helen Newall said:- "The installation is still evolving, as I'm still discovering pictures and relics. Just recently I found a cap badge which matches one a soldier is wearing in 1 of the photographs, so that is the latest addition."

The work also has a personal significance to Professor Newall. She said:- "At the time I was making this work in 2014, my father was dying of Alzheimer's disease, and it occurred to me that his gradual separation from his identity paralleled the way in which the subjects of these photographs were being separated from theirs. This work is thus dedicated to my father and to his uncle, James Caldwell, after whom he was named, and who was killed at the Front in 1916. His body was never found, his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial which lists over 72,000 names of those missing on the Somme."

 

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