From Flanders Mud To WWI Memorial
’Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope’ is made from mud from Passchendaele and earth from a Great War military camp.
A landscape gardener and an illustrator have joined forces to create a unique memorial to mark the centenary of the First World War coming to an end.
The artwork, entitled ’Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope’, is made from soil and slowly reveals itself as the mud dries out.
The piece has been composed of mud from Passchendaele and earth taken from a Great War military camp in Ripon.
Millions passed through this camp over the years, including the likes of Wilfred Owen and J. B. Priestley.
It has taken Dan Metcalfe, the artist, four years to make. Speaking about the artwork he said:
“THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT SOIL THAT IS VERY VERY EMOTIVE AND SOMETHING THAT SITS DEEP WITHIN OUR PSYCHE”.
Watch how a soldier silhouette emerges from a puddle of mud:
Mr Metcalfe described the process of how the piece has been created:
“The artwork starts life as a 9 meter by 3 meters muddy puddle, and over the period of a few days and a few weeks the moisture evaporates from the mud and cracks begin to appear and we’ve managed to manipulate the way the cracks appear, so they form the silhouette of a troop of personnel returning from the front.
“IT’S QUITE A MAGICAL EXPERIENCE, IT’S AMAZING WHEN YOU GO BACK, REPEAT VISITS ARE ALWAYS GOOD, YOU GO BACK AND YOU SEE THE CRACKS GROWING DAY BY DAY AND YOU SEE THIS LINE OF PERSONNEL GRADUALLY EMERGING FROM THE EARTH. IT’S QUITE MOVING.”
The first challenge Mr Metcalfe faced was finding the mud. The soil needs to be set in the right conditions and the moisture levels need to be monitored
Millions of ungerminated poppy seeds have also been sowed in the artwork.
There have also been several different drafts of what the piece of work should look like.
The project illustrator, Jeanne Munday, first drew a soldier looking towards the future and looking for hope, but this was decided to be too jolly.
Jeanne then used her son and daughter as models for her sketch of the troop returning from battle.
When the artwork is decommissioned, segments of the sculpture comprising of the dried earth and seeds will be made available to the public to create their own artworks or memorial gardens, therefore allowing the legacy of the work to continue in another form indefinitely.
Mr Metcalfe will now dismantle the sculptural piece and recreate the work at Ripon Cathedral, in Yorkshire, where it will be on display from 3 October to 14 November.
The project has also started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds.
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