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Medals For The Future Exhibition

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Collection of 100 porcelain medals reflect hope for future
Four years of commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War are drawing to a close at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The Arboretum, which is the UK's year-round Centre for Remembrance, has unveiled a new exhibition comprising 100 ceramic medals. The thought-provoking art installation, entitled Medals for the Future, has been created by London-based artist Clare Twomey. It has been included within the existing Landscapes of Life exhibition and will remain on display until March 31.

National Memorial Arboretum, Medals for the Future
The Medals for the Future exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum

Medals for the Future is inspired by events held at the Arboretum and rounds off four years of First World War centenary commemorations that have included landmark events and projects including those in recognition of the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Passchendaele, and Armistice Day. Clare Twomey, who is widely known for her large-scale ceramic installations, collaborated with the Arboretum to develop Medals for the Future. The project draws on the experience of the thousands of visitors who attended the various centenary events held at the Arboretum over the last four years. In particular, Clare held a drop-in session at the Arboretum's Armistice Day commemorations on November 11 last year when people gathered to mark 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War.

National Memorial Arboretum, Medals for the Future
The ceramic medals honour an act or quality

The drop-in session invited visitors to think about the qualities and achievements that they hope can be commended in the next one hundred years, ranging from Determination and Discipline to Bravery and Compassion. These reflections were then glazed onto 100 ceramic medals which are displayed on wooden benches, as a fragile memento of the significant moment when people gathered to remember the sacrifices made by those in the conflict. The shape of each medal was inspired by a Dead Man's Penny which is on display at the Arboretum. A Dead Man's Penny, or Next of Kin Memorial Plaque, was bestowed to the next of kin of all commonwealth service personnel who died as a result of their injuries in the First World War. These contemporary porcelain medals cast in the same way as their bronze counterparts are intended to encourage visitors to look toward how we will commemorate such sacrifices in the future.

National Memorial Arboretum, Medals for the Future
Medals for the Future marks the end of four years of First World War centenary events

Aysha Afridi, Head of Heritage and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, near Lichfield, said: "Temporary exhibitions are a key part of our cultural offering, allowing us to engage new audiences and explore the concept of Remembrance through a wide array of artistic mediums. This new exhibition produced in collaboration with internationally renowned artist Claire Twomey has captured the reflections of visitors and demonstrates the diversity of how people remember and pay tribute to personal sacrifice." Clare said: "To make an artwork that responds to the National Memorial Arboretum is to make a response to the people it sets out to remember. This is a very personal journey for all of those who visit the Arboretum. It is the people who visit that animate these vast memorials with stories and shared memories. It is important to acknowledge that remembrance is a very human thing, and I wanted to incorporate this into the new work by inviting the public to contribute to the forming of the artwork."

National Memorial Arboretum, Landscapes of Life
Part of the Landscapes of Life exhibition

Further information about the National Memorial Arboretum, which houses more than 300 memorials on its 150 acre site, can be found by visiting or by calling 01283 245100.
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Why? Medals Exhibition marks end of First World War Centenary projects
When: Until March 31, 2019
Phone: 01283 245100
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent DE13 7AR
Cost: Part of Landscapes of Life exhibition costing 7.50 for adults
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