World War I art exhibition goes on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery
Artwork entitled “Wilfred Owen and other war poets” by students from Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, working with renowned artist Carl Jaycock and students from colleges in Le Cateau in France and Walldorf in Germany, has gone on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery this week.
The exhibition can be seen until 15 February 2015.
Last month (November 2014) the students took part together in a week-long programme of events looking at World War I and developed a piece of collaborative artwork based on the messages and work of local war poet Wilfred Owen*.
The work that the students have produced will cause visitors to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery to stop and think how the lives of their predecessors were so irrevocably scarred or erased by the war. These were young men and women, like themselves, who witnessed warfare on a previously unprecedented, industrial scale.
Carl Jaycock is a Shropshire-based artist who has previously worked with the museum and undertaken commissions for the Houses of Parliament as artist in residence. As well as instructing and guiding the students, Carl brought their work together to produce a large collage of Wilfred Owen made out of hundreds of passport strip photographs of the students interacting with museum artefacts.
Tina Woodward, Shropshire Council’s deputy Cabinet member responsible for visitor economy, said:
“The students from three countries have produced very moving art works of a high standard, and I would encourage everyone to come to the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery to see them. We also remember at this time Shropshire soldier Wilfred Owen’s extraordinary contribution to war poetry and his tragic loss at such a young age.”
Martin Ward, Principal of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, said:
“This has been a fantastic opportunity for Shrewsbury students and staff, and the students from Le Cateau and Walldorf, to reflect on the momentous events of 1914-18 and to consider the messages that future generations will want to carry in to the future. We are very grateful for the support we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council, local people and officers of the council. Most importantly I hope it has been great fun for the students and an important learning experience for them.”
Also on display are some of the objects from both the museum’s collections and those of the Shropshire Regimental Museum, which the students examined during the project.
Two of these – from the museum’s own collections – are of particular interest.
The first is an army issue .45 Smith and Wesson revolver.
Emma-Kate Lanyon, Museum Curator, said:
“The first thing that struck me when I first handled this object was its weight, its solidity of purpose.
“It was issued to a Mr Morley who served on the Western Front at Villers-Plouich during intense fighting in 1917. Officers were issued with a handgun rather than a rifle. Mr Morley was leading his men ‘over the top’ when the gun was shot from his hand by an enemy bullet. He lost part of his hand but the gun saved his life. The twisted metal of the trigger mechanism is testimony to this single moment on the battlefield.”
The second object is an autograph book, which was signed by convalescing soldiers, recovering from their wounds in battle, and includes drawings, affectionate jokes and cheeky quips to the nurses.
The project has been supported by The Arts Council and The Heritage Lottery Fund as part of Shropshire’s commemoration of World War I. Find out more at http://www.shropshireremembers.org.uk/.
The exhibition is open at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery until 21 December (Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 4.30pm), from 27 to 30 December (11am to 3pm), and then from 2 January to 15 February 2015 (Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 4.30pm).
Admission to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery costs £4 adults, £3.50 seniors, £2 children (5-17 inclusive).
For more information visit www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk.
*Other highlights of the week included the Remembrance Day Service at St Chad’s, meeting the Mayor, visiting Stokesay Court (used as a hospital during the First World War), a Wilfred Owen walk and a visit to the Shropshire Regimental Museum. They saw “The Accrington Pals” at Theatre Severn, visited the imperial War Museum North in Manchester, experienced Bookfest Remembers, and enjoyed a second visit to Theatre Severn to see Michael Morpurgo’s “Best Christmas Present in the World”.