@bobbole’s amazing “You Don’t Remember the Somme?” art reminded me of Jeremy Deller’s art “We’re Here Because We’re Here” which I actually had the privilege of stumbling across in person when I was in Manchester in July 2016.
It’s Remembrance Weekend here so I thought I’d go down memory lane a little… (none of the photos are mine btw)
The ‘art’ included about 1,600 male volunteers, all dressed in the uniforms worn by the British army in the First World War. Each man represented a named individual who had been killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1st July 1916). When approached by the public, the men would hand out a card bearing the name, battalion and, often, the age of the man they represented. In Deller’s words, these cards were “like small tombstones”.
Every so often, the men would sing “We’re Here Because We’re Here” which was put to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
I still get chills just remembering.
THIS IS INCREDIBLE 😭
Oh wow, those are my tags in the wild (bizarre). We really were incredibly lucky to hear about the project in such detail, and I’ve got a few more facts if anyone’s interested:
- The weaving alone took three months and in the end they used 11,500 metres of fabric
- There were 30 costume supervisors based at hubs around the country
- The SAS designed a workout the volunteers could do while wearing the uniform that would help break it in and make it look natural
- I basically spent the afternoon crying like a baby after the talk finished
I read about this at the time and was blown away by the concept. The key thing is that none of the men talked. If they had spoken, even in character, they’d have been historical reenactors. Instead they were a haunting.