“…We shall build the Cenotaph…”
The title of my work is a line from a poem by Charlotte Mew, which refers not to the famous Cenotaph in London, but to the memorials in towns and villages all over the country which appeared after the war ended. People wanted to mark the loss to their own communities, particularly as in many cases the people they are remembering have no other memorial.
The structure has four sides.
Side one is a representation of the memorial in Stourton, Leeds, near where I work. It is a great example of how memorial can so easily be overlooked. This memorial was in a long-gone church, but was re-sited by a local benefactor, but so many memorials have been lost as communities vanish and move on. There is a register of memorials, in order to identify any that may now be at risk.
Side two is an abstract image, based on the hollowed-out inside of a tree. Trees appear in many photographs and paintings of world war 1 battlefields as ruined trunks, stripped of vegetation, and are a good representation of the destruction caused. I feel they are a worthy reminder of what the soldiers endured.
Side 3 presents a broken mirror. The breaks represent damaged communities and families, and the mirror is intended to reflect the names on the memorial on the facing wall of the church.
Side 4 is a simple image intended to represent peace and serenity, amongst all the fighting. The purpose of a memorial must surely be to remember the fallen, but also to serve as a reminder of what we lose in war. ‘Never Again’ was the view at the time; let us aspire to this.