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Students and staff use creative talents to mark WW1 centenary at The Northern School of Art

ByRachel Smith

Oct 24, 2018

Students and staff at The Northern School of Art have collaborated on a series of events to mark the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

A dramatic cascade of over 1500 poppies hand-crafted by textile and A Level students and staff is being displayed outside the entrance of the Middlesbrough campus of The Northern School of Art.

Each of the poppies has been individually created using either non-recyclable plastic or crocheted using donated wool.

The plastic was harvested from discarded plastic drinking bottles at the School’s Middlesbrough campus and used to fashion the poppy leaves and petals. Each poppy was then individually hand-painted and constructed using plastic bottle tops for the middle of the flower and then hand-tied to a net.

A member of the School’s recruitment team, who is a WW1 enthusiast and reenactor, staged an early two minute silence for staff and students on Thursday 8th at 11am near the poppy installation.  Stuart Featherstone was in full uniform and gave a short speech before blowing a whistle to signal the start of the silence, to echo the sound that sent soldiers ‘over the top’ of the trenches.

As students arrived, Stuart also handed out cards with information about fallen WW1 soldiers who were of similar ages to students.

He said: “I was very proud of the students who turned up for the silence. Lots of people think that teenagers have no respect, our event proved that they do and, most importantly, that the fallen will never be forgotten.”

Student Tabi Gallant, who is on the second year of The Northern School of Art’s UAL Extended Diploma in Photography, captured photos of the event and the display of textile art, costume and fashion artefacts on the theme of the 1918 Armistice being staged in the atrium of the School’s Green Lane campus reception.

Members of the public are invited to come and view the work, which includes intricately hand-stitched items featuring extracts from letters and diaries from soldiers who fought in the First World War as well as items that explore themes commemorating the 1918 period and acknowledge issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Second year Textiles student Jess Ralston reflected on being part of the project and said: “I learned that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the war.”

Emilie Ross commented that her project had given her an insight into post-traumatic stress disorder: “People who suffered from shell shock were penalised by the disorder, it wasn’t fear.”

Whilst Caitlin Crookston focused on the impact of the period on women, concluding: “I found out about the struggle women went through to fight for our rights and that makes me proud.”

The exhibition is available to view at The Northern School of Art’s Middlesbrough campus, Green Lane, Middlesbrough, TS5 7RJ from 8.30 am – 6 pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30 am – 4.30 pm on Fridays.