WWI centenary: Intelligence operation for art project

WWI story - tutor Clare Grace with here Art and Design Communication students. They are appealing for info on people named in the Batley School of Art's war memorial so they can create an art project. (D513B443)
WWI story - tutor Clare Grace with here Art and Design Communication students. They are appealing for info on people named in the Batley School of Art's war memorial so they can create an art project. (D513B443)

Art students at Kirklees College are looking for information about local WWI soldiers to help create a project to commemorate them.

The college’s Batley School of Art in Birkdale Road, Dewsbury, formerly Wheelwright School, has a memorial of names of local soldiers - former pupils of the school - who were killed in World War One.

Art tutor Clare Grace now wants to unravel the mysteries behind the names and is encouraging local people to tell stories about the sacrifices made by their own ancestors whose names are on the memorial for a special art project.

She said: “Every working day students, staff and visitors walk past the memorial. To the students they are probably just a list of names.

“We would like our students to look at the memorial, and instead of a name see the young man who sacrificed his life during that terrible war and to have an opportunity to reflect about the wider issues around conflict.

“It is very moving to think that many of the men named on the Wheelwright monument would have been the same age as our students. Like our students they would have had families and friends, hopes and dreams – that is why we would like the students to connect with some of the soldier’s life stories and develop work to commemorate them.”

She has enlisted the help of artist Andy Farr, whose WWI project, Lost Generation, is part funded by the Arts Council. Andy said: “The inspiration for this project came from the thought that 100 years ago my two teenage sons would have been part of the generation of men, and boys, sent to war.

“If you were 14 on August 4 1914 then either you or your friends would not have been alive four years later - almost a third of 16-20 years olds died during WWI.

“Those that did survive would have been physically injured and mentally scarred.”

Some of the work produced will be part of an exhibition at Batley Art Gallery from March 28-May 9 2015. It will then return home to Batley School of Art – Wheelwright Centre, where it will be proudly displayed as a permanent exhibit to commemorate the Wheelwright old boys and to connect with generations of students in the future.

If you have any information that could be useful contact Jonathan Hepworth or Clare Grace – email jhepworth@kirkleescollege.ac.uk or cgrace@kirkleescollege.ac.uk.