The Main Exhibition in 2014
This unique exhibition, the first to use the Imperial War Museum's Centenary brand mark, will open in central London in August 2014 before touring the UK and Eire's major cities and involves:
60 freestanding photographs of the WWI battlefields as they appear today, each measuring 1.2 metres x 1.8 metres
opens in central London in August 2014 before touring nationally across the UK and Eire during the centenary until 2018, based on a timeline of First World War events as they affected individual communities.
providing an artistically breathtaking, epically proportioned portal to the past for visitors to learn and contemplate the Great War; and an inclusive tangible focus for local communities, military and educational groups to stage commemorative events around the Centenary.
Artistically exquisite, emotionally haunting and historically fascinating, Mike St Maur Sheil's photographs are the result of a six-year project documenting the First World War 'fields of battle.'
They reflect on the fact that 100 years on, all living memory of the war has now passed on and only the landscape bears witness to the tumultuous events of the "war to end all wars". Michael's photography combines a passion for history with an eye for the beauty of a landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe.
As photographer Mike St Maur Sheil explained, "This collection represents a legacy which I hope will create a gateway to the battlefields themselves, thus encouraging people to visit these historic landscapes during the centennial period and so create awareness and understanding of the events and historical implications of the First World War".
The concept, conceived jointly by Mike St Maur Sheil with historian, the late Sir Richard Holmes and Chris Bridge of street gallery pioneers, WeCommunic8, was to create an exhibition, which, just like WW1, would reach out and touch every community in the nation. They wanted to create an exhibition which would be accessible and engaging for people who know nothing about WW1 and who would probably not normally enter a museum or art gallery for any purpose, hence its creation as a travelling 'street gallery'.
With these goals in mind, Registered charity Fields of Battle 14-18 has developed a uniquely engaging and inclusive touring street gallery exhibition, based not on the horrors of war, but on how, over time, nature has healed the battlefields, creating a link between the modern day and the personal dramas and stories these peaceful landscapes now hide.
Created to appeal universally, St Maur Sheil's powerful photography is accompanied by fascinating archive imagery, historical information and educational content, which, as a free-to-the-public exhibition, will serve as a gateway through which people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures across the UK and Eire can pass to share in remembrance, in their own communities, 24 hours a day.
Chris Bridge of street gallery pioneers Wecommunic8 explains further, "We have proved through our experience with the now iconic 'Earth from the Air' street gallery, which we toured across the UK for 8 years, that the 'Fields of Battle' project will engage with all social groups, whilst creating a high level intellectual and emotional connection with audiences.
The street gallery will create an immediate attraction through displaying Michael's imagery at such arresting scale. Free to view in all weathers, day and night, it will represent a direct channel of communication with the public and the opportunity to engage with local communities, schools, businesses, cultural organisations, regiments, scouts and guides, for example.
The Fields of Battle project will actively assist in bringing together people from all walks of life to discover and discuss the heritage of others affected by the First World War - people who might not otherwise have been presented with the opportunity. We are determined that as many people as possible across the UK have the opportunity to engage with this project. Under the guidance of the charitable trust, we can deliver an exhibition, which every citizen deserves to see during the Centenary.
The exhibition is presented by street gallery specialists wecommunic8 with official supporters including the Imperial War Museum, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the British Commission for Military History and Andrew Murrison MP, together with The French SÚnat and the Government of Flanders in support of the Flanders Fields 2104-18 Great War Centenary project. Mary Evans Picture Library are the exclusive licensors of all content from the exhibition and other images from this project by Mike St Maur Sheil.
Paul Brown, Managing Director of Mary Evans said 'We are delighted to be involved with this amazing and prestigious exhibition, and to represent the work of Mike St. Maur Sheil which brings history to life in such a unique and beautiful way.'