Shrouds of the Somme
Artist Rob Heard has spent the past four years hand-stitching 72,396 calico shrouds in human form - one to represent each of the Commonwealth servicemen killed at the Somme during World War One and who have no known grave. The figures, each of which is individually shaped and matched to the name of a real fallen serviceman, have now been laid out shoulder-to-shoulder in hundreds of rows in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The art installation is now to be unveiled to the public, for whom it will be free of charge to visit from 8-18 November 2018.
Filling an area of over 4000 square metres, the enormous scale of the Shrouds of the Somme conveys a strong sense of the true cost of the conflict, whilst honouring and remembering each life lost as an individual person.
Historian, TV presenter and SSAFA Ambassador Dan Snow said: "This is the most powerful depiction of the losses in the First World War that I have ever come across. (The artist) has done something so important here, he’s found such an unusual way to demonstrate the true human cost of the First World War, to remind us that the casualty lists that we see, they’re not just names and numbers, they’re individual human beings whose lives were destroyed by the fighting."
Profits from the project will be donated to SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity, and to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). You can make a charitable donation online and you can also purchase an individual shroud, profits from which will go towards the two charities. They can be purchased from the project website listed below.
The CWGC has made available the records of those commemorated in the memorial and created a permanent digital archive to store the public’s contributions. Members of the public can upload their own photographs and stories to the digital archive, ensuring a legacy of commemoration of these men which will continue far beyond 2018 - more details are available on the website below.
Installations of 19,240 shrouded figures in 2016 to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme in Exeter and Bristol attracted over 140,000 visitors and raised £52,000 for SSAFA and Exeter Foundation.
Find out more about the project by watching the video below or on the website: www.shroudsofthesomme.com.