|The Heritage Lottery Fund Commemorates the 90thAnniversary of the Burial of the Unknown Warrior with Monolith by Artist Jonathan D. Boast|
The Heritage Lottery has funded artist Jonathan D. Boast to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior with a sculptural monolith. The Unknown Warrior Project aims to teach new generations about the significance of Remembrance Day and involve local communities with their shared histories. Jonathan has been working closely with the Dover War Memorial Project, Westminster Archives, Westminster Abbey and more than 100 Scouts and Brownies to design and create a window into British history. The eight-panelled monolith will stand over 2m tall and be on display in Westminster Abbey from 2nd November 2010.
the 10th of November 1920, the HMS Verdun returned to England with
the body of one soldier who symbolically represented all those who had died in
the Great War, but whose place of death was unmarked. His body was transported
from Dover to London via rail and laid rest in Westminster Abbey on Armistice
Day 1920 in what is now one of the most visited war graves in the world. This
literal, and figurative, double-sided window tells the stories of six
servicemen who lived and worked along the casket’s rail route. Such men include
famous Chelsea player Bob ‘Pom Pom’ Whiting of the 17th Middlesex
Footballers Battalion and 2nd Lieutenant Walter Tull, who played for
Tottenham Hotspur and was the first black infantry officer in the British Army,
also nominated for the MC. Coinciding with the 90th anniversary of
the burial of the Unknown Warrior, the Football League Trust will also unveil a
memorial in France in October 2010 to the men of the 17th Middlesex
Football Battalion who died in the Great War.
Jonathan helped bring the personal stories of these six soldiers to life for the Scouts and Brownies in Dover by using printed archival documents and photographs for one side of the monolith. The opposite side of the window portrays a British soldier standing on the cliffs of Dover as he watches the HMS Verdun’s. A bright Poppy falls in the background sky like the setting sun, as additional surrounding iconography helps to represent the grief of an entire nation. Thus the printed and painted imagery symbolically merge to bring together the themes of the work; individual and national mourning and our pledge to remember.
In an explanation of the piece Jonathan has said that, “In a space like the Abbey a work is in competition with its surroundings; such grandeur and gothic majesty is not exactly a blank canvas. The work had to stand out. I was inspired by inverting the ‘St. Ethelburga’s effect.’ Each day I’d pass this medieval little structure in Bishopsgate surrounded by massive modern buildings that never quite manage to overshadow its dominance of the area. This ‘window’ uses the same means to impose itself but reverse; a steel and acrylic industrial aesthetic amongst the curves and curls of Westminster Abbey. The importance of the narrative behind the window demanded strength not subtlety, and it is vital that we, our children and grandchildren forever know the intrinsic effects of industrial war, both for individuals and the nation as a whole, even in victory.”
Along with Jonathan’s work, archive material from the Dover War Memorial Society, Westminster Archives and Westminster Abbey will be used to tell the story of the Unknown Warrior in an exhibition that will be on display in Westminster Abbey from 2nd November 2010 to mark the 90th anniversary of this event. Pupils from London and across the South East will attend special services and workshops hosted by the Abbey’s education department. The entire exhibition will then tour sites linked with the events, including Dover Town Hall/Discovery Centre, Westminster Abbey, The City of Westminster Archives, Medway Archives, The Royal Artillery Museum, Kent & East Sussex Railway Museum and Port of Dover.
Above: Final digital sketch of the unnamed monolith
More information on the artwork and wider project can be found through the below links: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/kent/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_9081000/9081269.stm
Below: Photos from the workshops with Dover Scouts, Beavers, Cubs and Brownies and press; Your Dover, Express, Mercury.