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Poignant art project honours First World War soldiers
Members of the public are being invited to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to contribute to a poignant outdoor art installation which aims to remember those who fought in the First World War. Armistice Day 2018 will mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. And the new art project, entitled 'Flags For The Fallen', forms part of the Arboretum's programme of commemorations for this significant occasion. 'Flags For The Fallen' follows a series of temporary art installations at the Arboretum that marked the centenary of significant moments in the First World War, such as En Masse to mark the Battle of The Somme, and 'Heartfelt messages' which commemorated the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Flags for the Fallen map alongside the Armed Forces Memorial
The creation of 'Flags For The Fallen' was overseen by Julie Edwards and Ron Thompson, of 'Planet Art', who were the creative force behind En Masse. Visitors to the Arboretum, at Alrewas, near Lichfield, are invited to decorate a flag in tribute to a soldier who fell during the conflict. Each flag will, in turn, be added to a giant map of the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth countries, including India, Australia, and the Caribbean islands, which has been marked out on the ground next to the Armed Forces Memorial. The map will show where the soldiers illustrated by the individual flags came from in order to create a steadily growing memorial of those who served their country. The flags will each be uniquely decorated by a member of the public, passing tribute to the sacrifice that each soldier and their families made. They will be clearly seen from the Armed Forces Memorial towering above the make-shift map as it continues to grow and develop over the four months leading up to the centenary of the Armistice on November 11.
The flags are placed according to where the fallen troops came from
It is hoped that the map will attract contributions from people across the country, with flags representing people from every major town and city. Visitors are encouraged to bring details of any particular soldier from their area who they wish to commemorate. Aysha Afridi, Head of Heritage and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "Following the previous success with En Masse as part of our Battle of the Somme programme, it is fantastic to be working with Julie and Ron again to create another special event to commemorate those who gave their lives in the First World War. We hope members of the public from across the country will come together to commemorate the centenary of the armistice in this unique and artistic way, ensuring representation from all countries and regions."
Julie Edwards and Ron Thompson from Planet Art said: "The Flags For The Fallen installation encourages members of the public to explore the momentous sacrifice that was made by those who fought in The First World War. The act of decorating the flags gives visitors the opportunity to express their thanks and remembrance in a unique and individual way through art. We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with the National Memorial Arboretum again, to help individuals express their remembrance of loved ones who fought, or to commemorate all the soldiers who fell during the First World War."
Other Commonwealth countries involved in the war are included in the project
The Arboretum, part of the Royal British Legion, is the UK's year-round Centre for Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice and fosters pride in our country. It has almost 30,000 maturing trees and more than 370 memorials and, in October 2016, opened a £15.7 million Remembrance Centre.