WWI Centenary Commemoration 2018

2018 marked the centenary of the end of World War I. One hundred years after the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, we still see connections either through family history, local heritage, or generally in the long-term impact on society and the world today.
FWWC logo small

The War claimed the lives of over 16 million people across the globe and had a huge impact on those who experienced it. For the last four years, the Imperial War museum and other associated Non-profit organisations have been marking the impact of the First World War with a vibrant programme of global events and activities to ensure that those who lived, fought and served during the years 1914-1918 are not forgotten.

DOCA worked closely with the Town Council, Wiltshire Museum and a number of other organisations to create a programme of beautiful and contemporary events to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.

This project was organised in partnership with Devizes Town Council and Wiltshire Museum and supported by Arts Council England and McCarty & Stone. Special thanks to Nigel Carter for additional funding and all those that have contributed poppies and paper swans.

Events

Wiltshire Remembers: Aftermath of the First World War
20th Oct 2018 – 23rd Feb 2019
Wiltshire Museum – Art Gallery, Oexmann Gallery

This moving exhibition. curated by Richard Broadhead, featured a Wall of Remembrance dedicated to the 10,000 Wiltshire fallen of the First World War, including men and women who were members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WANHS).

old sepia-toned photograph of Devizes War Memorial - a semi-circular stone structure with panels displaying lists of names

The exhibition included:

  • A Wall of Remembrance for the 10,000 who are on memorials, born, buried or associated with Wiltshire. This has never been achieved before and to gaze on the name of the fallen will be a very emotional experience.
  • A memorial to the men and women members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (the Society) who fell in the Great War. This is the first time the names of members or children of members who fell in the Great War, including the Curator’s son and some other surprising characters, who if they had lived would have contributed to the future of the Society.
  • The names form a list of the great and the good from the county of Wiltshire. Find out more about some of their stories including the grave of a member visited by the King.
  • Great War Archaeology in Wiltshire and its ongoing legacy. So much of the Great War archaeology still exists – see some surprising artefacts which have survived for 100 years and the stories of the men who left their mark on Wiltshire.
  • Great War Memorials in Wiltshire. How and why we have so many of them today and the process that led to their creation and erection was not always a civil process.

The exhibition featured the stories of the people who lived, fought, died and survived the conflict – a truly fitting memorial dedicated to those who gave all in the Great War. This was Wiltshire Museum’s tribute to them, and featured stories of some of those who fought, died and survived the conflict. We Are Remembering Them!

Soldier Silhouettes
The Brittox

white outlines of bodies painted onto a street floor

A stark reminder and thought provoking installation in the Brittox, created with assistance from Devizes Youthy. 189 silhouettes line the Brittox to commemorate the 189 men of Devizes and Roundway that gave their lives in the great war.

Pause for a second – stop and think…
Why are they here?
What’s all about?
How do they make you feel?
The silhouettes have been painted in chalk paint, which will fade over time

Luminous Birds
24 Oct – 21 Nov 2018
Little Brittox & Old Swan Yard

a row of illuminated origami birds on a string at night

Really beautiful & unexpected

Soaring and soothing – framing the night skies

As night fell, Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde used synchronised lighting and spatialised music to create the sensation of birds flying overhead. Each bird was handmade using the traditional paper folding technique of Origami. They lit up in turn to create an animated sequence similar to stop motion animation accompanied by micro-compositions made from the sounds of distorted pianos and bells. The action of many birds, flocking together, is one of nature’s most amazing phenomena – an ultimate act of cooperation, hundreds moving forward in harmony.

Luminous Birds created a moment out of the ordinary in a surprise location. A magical experience for all the family, to be viewed after dark.

Originally commissioned by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2015, with development and sound commissioned by Cryptic 2016. Thanks to Haine & Smith Opticians who are partnering with to make this project possible.

Portrait of a Hero
30 Oct – 11 Nov 2018
St. John’s Church

an artist working on a painting on the floor. The painting is of a man in military uniform

As part of the World War I Centenary commemorations we worked with Rangoli artist Milan Arvindkumar on a special artwork in St. John’s Church, inspired by an image of a local soldier who fought in WWI. This local unsung hero in the spotlight was Arthur Cecil Townsend, father of one of our very own Festival Makers, Richard Townsend. The piece was created using traditional Rangoli techniques, painted in colour powder, and took 3 days to create from the 20th November. Over the following weeks, the church was open to all to come and view it. The family was invited to a special service on the 11th of November where the image was dismantled and scattered to the wind in remembrance of all those who lost their lives in The Great War.

Poppy Installation
30 Oct – 11 Nov 2018
St. John’s Church

Devizes Cross covered in red, white and blue poppy decorations

As part of the World War I Centenary commemorations we worked with Rangoli artist Milan Arvindkumar on a special artwork in St. John’s Church, inspired by an image of a local soldier who fought in WWI. This local unsung hero in the spotlight was Arthur Cecil Townsend, father of one of our very own Festival Makers, Richard Townsend. The piece was created using traditional Rangoli techniques, painted in colour powder, and took 3 days to create from the 20th November. Over the following weeks, the church was open to all to come and view it. The family was invited to a special service on the 11th of November where the image was dismantled and scattered to the wind in remembrance of all those who lost their lives in The Great War.

Empire Soldiers VR
27 Oct 2018, 10:30-15:30
Wiltshire Museum Lecture Hall

2 performers stand on a stage either side of a small staircase leading up to it. There are pull-up banners either side of the staircase with text that reads 'Empire Soldiers'

Empire Soldiers VR was a breath-taking experience blending street-dance performance and technology to tell the compelling stories of the forgotten Caribbean soldiers of the First World War. Through Virtual Reality and 360 degree film, this show brought a truly immersive experience that is emotive and unforgettable.

Hear the captivating stories of the battlefield as you are joined by a returning soldier and share the emotional experience of the return home. As the journey continues to the present day, focus turns to the resulting changes over the last 100 years and the impact of migration on the world today.

The performance was developed by Metro-Boulot-Dodo – established in 1997 as a touring theatre company. A few incarnations and over twenty years later we have combined all of that theatre experience with a bit of visual arts, street arts, heritage interpretation, large scale performance, a full scale recording studio and an ongoing interest in technology. MBD now operates in the arts and heritage sector offering a range of experiences from large-scale spectacles to intimate VR experiences.

Empire Soldiers by Metro-Boulot-Dodo is a perfectly pitched use of the form. The purpose of this richly designed world is not its own existence, but to focus you on that of its subject – a Caribbean soldier recruited to fight in the first world war. A deft use of sound builds a short, poetic and moving experience. New Scientist 27/10/17

Audience feedback:

  • Fantastic use of VR and performance, was brilliant. Very unnerving in all the right ways
  • Very thought provoking and powerful. 1st VR experience and really enjoyed it!
  • This was amazing! Very clever production – highly recommend it!
  • Just experienced @MBDtweet‘s #EmpireSoldiers at @frequency_fest. My VR experience of the year. GO SEE IT. #Freq17 @lincdrillhall

We are grateful to the Devizes Area Board of Wiltshire Council for funding to enable us to hold a workshop with students from Devizes and Lavington Schools.

The Flickering Light – An evening of archive film, featuring Wiltshire, WWI and the decades after the Armistice
8 Nov 2018, 19:30
Devizes Corn Exchange

old black and white photograph of a busy street. two women in bright clothes hold hands as they walk through the street

Windrose Rural Media Trust brought its collection of popular archive films to Devizes Corn Exchange with a unique show reflecting local life in Wiltshire and surrounding counties before and during World War I, as well as on into the decades following the Armistice in 1918. From farming and industry, to high days and holidays, and the never far away military presence on Salisbury Plain, the show depicted how we lived during those inter-war years.

This fascinating selection of rarely seen archive films was accompanied by live folk song and traditional music from West Country musician and singer Amanda Boyd. Windrose Rural Media Trust has been discovering and saving old cine films of rural life in Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset for 34 years. These films are a true window on the past; the nearest thing to living history that exists.

Films include:

Pre World War 1 and life during the conflict…

  • Life in Warminster in 1909
  • Troop activity in Devizes in around 1912/1913
  • Holidays in wartime Minehead and Weymouth
  • Propaganda film of Iwerne Minster showing rural life in 1918
  • Beyond War and into The Future… to the 1930s…

Salisbury and District Band of Hope parade from 1921

  • Farming the land in the 1920s
  • Wiltshire Industry featuring Westinghouse in the inter-war years
  • Military raining on Salisbury Plain in the 1920s

Beyond War and into The Future… to the 1940s…

  • Malmesbury Carnival celebrations in 1937
  • Wiltshire railways in the 1930s
  • Wiltshire School of Flying in 1937
  • Trips to the seaside – Swanage in the 1930s

The Return to War…

Evacuees in Salisbury, Civil Defence in Swindon and Wiltshire’s Dad’s army on parade

Dedication of the Garden of Remembrance and a Chance to Remember
5 Nov 2018

poppy wreaths and decorations on Devizes War Memorial

Dedication of the Garden of Remembrance
10:45
War Memorial, Long Street

The official start of Remembrance week, with the dedication of the Garden of Remembrance.

A Chance to Remember
Following the dedication of the Garden of Remembrance
Corn Exchange

The names recorded on the War Memorial were read out followed by the singing of wartime songs lead by the Devizes Good Afternoon Choir. An exhibition of war memories, produced by local schools, was on display.

Remembrance Day Concert
11 Nov 2018, 15:30-18:00
St. John’s Church

a sepia-toned composite image of a no-man's-land landscape, the Union Jack, a man playing violin and a close up of a soldier in uniform

For King and Country

Telling the story of the Great War through music and words featuring Devizes Children’s Choir, St John’s Church Choir, Wharf Theatre Actors,
Devizes Town Band and George Wilding.

The concert will have a combination of words and music supported with a visual display.

Paper Cranes
St. John’s Church

rows of origami birds on strings, strung across the roof of a church

As part of the World War I commemorations in Devizes, we created a special installation to be hung in St John’s Church filled with paper origami cranes

A thousand tiny origami birds were suspended in St John’s church over the Remembrance period as a symbol of peace. These cranes were then sent to Hiroshima, Japan, to be part of the Children’s Peace monument, built in memory of Sadako Sasaki, and meant to be a wish for peace, started after the Hiroshima nuclear bomb in 1945. Each year approximately 10 million cranes are offered each year from across the world to be part of the monument. See more information on the city hiroshima website.

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