Together with Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life we worked with Schools and Community groups to create a unique and memorable Armistice Day Service on the 11th November at Carlisle Castle, which brought together music, performance and textiles.
Development of the service began in September 2016 when 6 schools, Brook Street, Carlisle, St Herbert’s, Keswick, Victoria Junior, Workington, Distington Primary and St Catherine’s RC School, Penrith, were invited to work with the Learning and Access Officer, Jules Wooding from Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life in a special WW1 artefact handling session where the students learnt about the WW1.
Informed by their experience at the Museum and knowledge of WW1, each school then worked with Writer David Napthine to produce a class poem which was transformed into a song with the help of Musician/Composer Mark Newport.
Each school performed their First World War remembrance song as part of the service on Armistice Day.
On the day, Prism Arts Studio Theatre provided a moving reminder of the effect that the war had on family life by performing extracts from the production they were touring, TLC: Tales of a Long Conflict, a production about the effect war has on family life. The Studio group adapted the performance specially for the day and performed 5 small sections of it in between each school performed their First World War remembrance song.
The service ended with the unveiling of an awe inspiring community made Battle of the Somme Commemorative Quilt. The quilt is made up of 353 patches and is 46 metres long. The patches were created by school pupils and community groups, each patch is a response to the Battle of the Somme created with the guidance of Artist Helen Walsh who also laboriously sewed the entire quilt together.
The school children were able to view the entire quilt on the day and find the patches they created.
The service’s backdrop was the poignant Community Poppy installation within Carlisle Castle. Poppies had been knitted and crocheted by community groups that had been used to transform a tree, lawn, building and railings into thought provoking reminders of those who lost their life.
A life sized Solider Puppet, made by Prism Arts Lead Artist Ali McCaw, led and ended the commemoration.
The project was funded through the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts fund and the event formed part of the Museums community activities commemorating the Battle of the Somme.
‘Remembering those who were part of the Battle of the Somme is very important in this centenary year. Thanks to the Arts Council we have been able to work with Prism Arts to develop a creative approach to the Battle enabling the schools to produce a unique lyrical reminder of this well-known battle and the soldiers who took part’ – Jules Wooding, Learning and Access Officer, Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life.
The project has resulted in a new meaningful collaboration between the Museum, Prism Arts, local Schools, community groups and Studio Theatre members and allowed us to explore the events of the Battle of the Somme with new audiences. The work produced will be kept by the Museum as part of the collection so that communities can visit and experience the work in the future.