Six Scottish beaches will take part in a nationwide commemoration marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Pages of the Sea, conceived by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle, will take place at beaches across the UK and Ireland as part of a series of ‘alternative’ community events to more traditonally sombre and formal cenotaph-style memorials.
St Ninian’s Isle beach in Shetland, West Sands in St Andrews, Scapa beach in Orkney, Ayr Beach, Burghead Bay beach on the Moray Firth (exact location TBC) and Cula Bay beach on the isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides have all been chosen as gathering points for Scotland’s contribution to a series of nationwide Armistice Day events on November 11.
In a highly original concept local people will be invited to the beaches to observe the work of sand artists, who will create large-scale portraits of a casualty from the First World War with a connection to their communities. As part of a nationwide engagement ordinary members of the public are invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the conflict, 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 portraits, created by collective Sand In Your Eye, will later be erased by the incoming tide in what is set to be deeply moving and poignant reminders of the sacrifice of the soldiers, who 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. Inn addition, the public will also be asked to join in on the day by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.
Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre of Scotland, which is leading the event in Scotland, said:“The First World War had a devastating impact on Scotland, with tens of thousands of young lives lost and many more forever altered. Our nation has an enduring and emotive connection to the sea and our beautiful coastline has seen many come and go throughout history. Pages of the Sea will create an artistic tribute, both personal and communal, through art, words, pictures and stories, acknowledging all those who left our shores during WW1. As a theatre without walls, the National Theatre of Scotland welcomes this poignant opportunity to help bring communities together in this fitting act of remembrance. We would like to thank our partners for their invaluable support of this special project.”
Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Danny Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on the beaches across the UK and Ireland on 11 November. Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.
Local communities in all six locations are encouraged to come to a workshop ahead of the event. During the workshop led by a representative from the local community, the public will learn details on how they can become a part of the single biggest event in the UK and Ireland on Armistice Day. There will be an opportunity to listen to and share stories of local heroes who fell or returned; worked the land or tended to the sick during the great war as well as exploring war-time poetry. Those interested in attending the workshops are required to register via this link.
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.
With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.
Scottish partners on this project include: Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, The Byre Theatre, South Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Leisure, The Gaiety, Orkney Islands Council, Findhorn Bay Arts and Taigh Chearsabhagh.
The project is the latest collaboration between the National Theatre of Scotland and 14-18 NOW. It follows the success of previous nationwide participatory projects We’re here because we’re here, with artist Jeremy Deller in 2016 marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and PROCESSIONS earlier this year, which in Scotland saw thousands of women take to the streets of Edinburgh in a colourful march to celebrate the centenary of votes for women. 14-18 NOW also collaborated on the powerful The 306 trilogy, the final part of which, The 306: Dusk, premieres in Perth in October 2018.