5th November 2018
York College is proud to have a display entitled ‘Lest We Forget’ to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War. Located in the College’s Gallery space, the display includes contributions from staff and students from Creative Media, Engineering, Art and Design, Pathways, Health & Social Care and Musical Theatre.
Six larger than life silhouettes dominate the display. The silhouettes were created by Engineering Tutor, Si Wheeler, who himself served in the military, and whose great -grandfather lost his life during the Battle of Passchendaele. Each silhouette represents a different area from the First World War that has relevance for students and staff. The silhouettes include;
- A British ‘Tommy’ - representing UK values and also the loss of life
- A German soldier - to show that all sides suffered losses during the conflict
- A Sikh silhouette - representing the fact that the war affected many different races and religions
- A female nurse - to show how women were involved in the conflict
- An amputee - to show the effects of war and how people had to deal with disabilities inflicted during war.
- A shot at dawn figure - show how mental illness was overlooked at the time and how we have now progressed and recognise these conditions
Si Wheeler was also inolved in researching the names of young soldiers from the local area, aged 15 – 18 years, who lost their lives during the war. All their names are placed around the walls of the display and each name is a reminder of a life that was lost. Rather than forming a roll call of names (which is the tradition), the names appear in a more contemporary style and could quite easily be the names of students studying at the College. Their names are now anonymous and are only to be remembered by close family, if at all, reminding us of the fragility of our own lives and how the world around us continues onwards after we are gone.
Tutors from the Pathways programme at the College were keen for their students to be involved. The students made an incredibly moving and thoughtful response, wanting to share their thoughts, feelings and knowledge about the impact of war. They amazed staff with their understanding and compassion. The students worked independently to produce a piece of artwork, poem or writing. They made their own choices and their display reflects how they wanted to show their respect.
Within the display, recordings by Musical Theatre students can be heard reading poetry from the era, including Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen and In Flanders Field by John McCrae. The poetry readings capture the horror and pain of the First World War. The students are also giving spontaneous performances of the poems and songs throughout the duration of the display.
Dawn Benn, Team Leader for Health and Social Care at the College provided a profile of Nurses during WW1, including images of Edith Cavell - a very famous Nurse during The Great War. There are also copies of archived nursing notes and statements of completion, giving some idea of the job roles and tasks that Nurses did, alongside photos of Nurses on the front line and their important roles back in the community and in hospitals.
The display also features work by 3D Contemporary Craft degree student Vincent Lyles and includes two carefully crafted and incredibly moving sculptures as well as other First World War paraphernalia and pieces brought in by staff and students.
Art and Design Tutor, Steven Hemingway who runs the exhibition programme at York College says: “This display is immensely moving and thought-provoking. 100 years may have passed since the end of WW1 and we like to feel that we have progressed considerably since then, but with far-right ideologies gaining force across the globe and reactionary and impulsive world leaders calling the shots, the idea that the world will never be at war again should not be taken for granted. This exhibition is therefore a reminder of those who lost their lives during WW1 as well as a display to reflect the horror of the very idea of war and the lives that are destroyed through the choices made by those who are in power.”
'Lest We Forget' depicts a war from the distant past that had an impact on the lives of millions of people across the globe. We should never forget all those who fought and lost their lives in order for us to have the freedoms that we often take for granted today. We must do everything in our power to make sure that events such as WW1 simply never have the chance to happen again.
'Lest We Forget' runs in the College Gallery for for two weeks, from 5th - 15th November 2018.