Sunderland to be part of Danny Boyle's Armistice Day commission

Sunderland Culture will be part of Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle’s commission for 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. On 11 November 2018, the public is invited to gather on beaches across the UK for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.

Millions of people served in the First World War and many left by sea. Sunderland Culture will be leading events at Roker Beach on Sunday 11 November. Each event centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War, designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, which will be washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict. 

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November. Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches around the UK for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.  

Danny Boyle said:

"Beaches are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide. They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War. I'm inviting people to watch as the faces of the fallen are etched in the sand, and for communities to come together to remember the sacrifices that were made."

The public is also invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on 11 November. The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War.

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture, said:

“We’re delighted Sunderland has been chosen to play a key role in such an important event to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War. Sunderland is known throughout the country for its Remembrance Sunday service – the biggest outside of London – so I’m sure the city will support Pages of the Sea which will be a moving and memorable tribute to those who laid down their lives in what was meant to be the War to End All Wars. We’ll be unveiling more details of the event and how people can get involved in the project over the coming days and weeks.”

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said:

"Danny Boyle has created a beautiful, poetic artwork that invites people across the UK to participate in a new nationwide gesture of remembrance on the centenary of Armistice Day. It is a fitting farewell to all of those who served and were affected by the First World War. I would like to thank Danny Boyle, Carol Ann Duffy and all our partners and funders for their help in realising this ambitious project."

The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Swansea City Council and Sunderland Culture.

Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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