If you can't read this email properly, please click here

Mary Evans Picture Library represents the work of Mike St. Maur Sheil whose work for a major street gallery photographic exhibition of WWI battlefields, previews in Westminster Hall from 5th - 14th November.

Fields of Battle Lands of Peace 14 - 18

A WWI exhibition by World Press Photo Award-winning photographer Mike St Maur Sheil

Westminster Hall Pre-launch Exhibition: 5th - 14th November 2013

In the week before Remembrance Sunday, and with less than 12 months before the Centenary commemorations begin, a pre-launch event for the Fields of Battle exhibition will take place at Westminster Hall on November 5th this year. Hosted by The Rt. Hon. Jeffrey Donaldson MP, the pre-launch event will seek to raise awareness of the project and gain further commitment from host cities to add to the growing list.

Ultimately, the focus of the event will be on engagement and securing additional funding to ensure that this unique street gallery project reaches as many communities as possible between 2014 and 2018. A taster for the main exhibition, the pre-launch will include a selection of the images ear-marked for the main exhibition, some of which you can view here. You can visit the exhibition to see the rest of the images and read the stories behind them.

The Westminster Hall event is a trailer for the main street gallery exhibition, which will launch officially in Central London in August 2014 to mark the outbreak of the First World War. Commencing with Nottingham, the exhibition will then embark on a four-year tour to major cities throughout the UK and Eire, which now includes: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Henley on Thames, Leeds, Norwich, Nottingham, Perth, Portsmouth and Southampton.

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.'

Fields of Battle Lands of Peace 14-18 press enquiries:

Editors' notes:

  • Wecommunic8 are pioneers in the field of large scale, touring street galleries. Their Earth from the Air exhibition in 2002, toured for 8 years, taking in 11 cities and reached an estimated 10 million people, while their current Britain from the Air tour in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society, recently completed a visit to Edinburgh, the launch event for which was led by immediate past President of the RGS, Michael Palin. Their further portfolio of uniquely inclusive photographic exhibitions includes environmental awareness campaigns for Greenpeace and the WWF together with the Co-operative in conjunction with the United Nations year of Cooperatives.

  • Potential host cities of the Fields of Battle 14-18 exhibition tour are invited to contact Jan Bridge or Russell Davies at Wecommunic8 on + 44 (0)1604 696903 or via the website www.fieldsofbattle1418.org.

  • Mike St Maur Sheil was awarded a World Press Photo Award in 2002 for his work on child trafficking in West Africa, Michael began working as a photographer in Northern Ireland in 1970, after studying Geography at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He is a member of the British Commission for Military History together with being a badged member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

  • Captured over a period of seven years, Mike's photography combines a passion for history and landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe.

  • Fields of Battle 14-18, is a registered charity no. 1141520

  • Mary Evans Picture Library is the UK's leading source for historical images and celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. Mary Evans is proud to offer one of the most comprehensive collections of imagery of WWI for the centenary in 2014, with many unique collections, such as Mike's only available through them. For further information, or licensing queries, please contact: paul.brown@maryevans.com