You may have missed this in the Summer…..1st July 2016, the 100th anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme. Artist, Jeremy Deller, was commissioned to make something of this date and being the brilliant outside-the-box thinker this wonderful man is, he came up with recruiting a number of volunteers to wander our towns and cities as soldiers. In essence, this sounds like a very simple idea but months of work belied the ghostly apparitions walking amongst us in battle dress for one day, a collision of time. The attention to detail was immense….each ‘recruit’ represented a real (dead) soldier and all the groups that came together, worked together as a unit.
There was in fact some trepidation about the project as it was all kept very under wraps and sprung around the UK on one day…..would there be trouble, hostility…? In fact, the overwhelming response was emotion, engagement and sadness, thanks and gratitude and wonderment……the social media circus soon took over and, as ever, Deller has left us with a legacy of public art, truly owned and experienced by the public.
Thankfully the BBC have a documentary about the work, still available on iplayer and you can see the project here; https://becausewearehere.co.uk/