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Shrouds of the Somme in London

Posted  10 May 2017 in News  
By Liz Robertson
Bristol Cathedral and the Shrouds that represent soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme Photographs Richard Austin Bristol Cathedral and the Shrouds that represent soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme Photographs Richard Austin

Shrouds of the Somme, a unique commemorative art project, are planning to bring the installation to London in 2018.

A total of 72,396 shrouded figures will be laid out in rows in London to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. Each figure represents a British serviceman who died at the Battle of the Somme but whose body was never recovered. Every figure is bound by Rob into a hand-stitched calico shroud and made to a name identified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This will take a total of 15,000 hours to achieve.

Last year Rob created 19,240 shrouded figures to represent each soldier killed on the first day of Battle of the Somme. These were laid out in Exeter and Bristol giving a powerful and poignant reminder of the loss during the anniversary of the battle.  Now Rob needs to make 60,000 more shrouds to represent each of the 72,396 British servicemen whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme battlefields.

The idea for the artwork behind the shrouds, in which figures representing the dead are laid out in rows on the grass, came to Rob in 2013 while he was recovering from a car crash which damaged both his hands. He began thinking about military fatalities in history and how impossible it was to visualise the huge numbers involved. As he makes the shrouds, Rob refers to a list of names of the British servicemen recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves commission and engraved on the Thiepval Memorial in France.  Each figure is associated with a name so that each one is individually acknowledged and remembered.

Find out more and take part at: www.shroudsofthesomme.com

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