Shrouds of the Somme, displayed at Exeter and Bristol in 2016, and now destined for London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the close of the WW1 Centenary in November (Photo: Centenary News)

2018 Events - 'Shrouds of the Somme' in Armistice Centenary tribute

Posted on on 31 December 2017
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A British artist is individually making more than 72,000 shrouded figures for the Armistice Centenary, in a personal tribute to the fallen of the Great War.

Rob Heard's Shrouds of the Somme will serve as a focal point for national remembrance in November at London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

It'll mark the culmination of a project which began as a tribute to the 19,240 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of Somme.

The Somerset-based artist is now hand-stitching 72,396 shrouds to commemorate all of the troops remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Each will be wrapped around a 12-inch (30 cms) figure, representing a serviceman who has no known grave.

In the run up to the Armistice Centenary in November, the shrouded figurines will fill 5,000 square metres of ground next to the stadium which hosted the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Photo: Centenary News)

And there's an appeal for the public to get involved.

Working in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the Shrouds of the Somme project is asking descendants of soldiers named on the Thiepval Memorial to search family archives for photographs and personal stories.

Rob Heard explains: "As I go through the process of putting the figure within the shroud, I cross a name off. It’s vitally important that each is associated with a name, otherwise the individual gets lost in the numbers."

CWGC has made available its own Thiepval Memorial records, and also created a digital archive for the public's contributions. Stories, images and diary extracts can be uploaded for sharing to the Shrouds of the Somme on the CWGC website

Centenary News spoke to Rob Heard during the closing Somme Centenary display at College Green, Bristol, in November 2016.

Commodore Jake Moores, Shrouds of the Somme Chairman, said: "Remembering those thousands who fell as individual men is crucial to honouring their sacrifice – but so little is known about so many of them.

"Tell us who they were, where they were from, what they did – make them real, give them dignity. Bringing the individual to the forefront of these unimaginable numbers will help the nation to truly understand the scale of the loss of those who gave their all."

'Shrouds of the Somme' will be in London from 9-18 November 2017. See Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for more details.

Source: Shrouds of the Somme; CWGC

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team