On 11 November 2018, across the UK and Ireland communities gathered on 32 beaches to say a collective goodbye and thank you to the millions who left their shores, many never to return.
Activate Performing Arts presented Pages of the Sea in Weymouth and Lyme Regis, as the regional delivery partner for this final event in 14-18 NOW’s national arts programme.
Pages of the Sea was the largest simultaneous coastal arts project to take place in the UK.
Large-scale portraits were drawn into the sand on the beaches and washed away as the tide came in – representing a small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war. The portraits featured across the thirty-two beaches were chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of stories – many were from the regions or communities they were depicted in, with others from towns, cities and international communities not featured to show the scale of loss.
Weymouth – Private Stanley Robert McDougall VC, an ANZAC soldier was drawn by a team of local military veterans from the Weymouth and Portland Veterans Hub and fine art students from Weymouth College. Led by local artist Alan Rogers.
Lyme Regis – Rifleman Kulbir Thapa VC, the first Gurkha to be awarded the Victoria Cross was drawn by a team of A-level art students from Woodroffe School. Led by local artist Sarah Butterworth.
An estimated 14,000 visitors attended the event in Weymouth and Lyme Regis. In addition, beach visitors joined the commemoration by creating hundreds of silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.
“I really didn’t expect the level of engagement or reaction from the public to be so strong – it was truly moving. Those simple images in the sand, representing relations, friends and all of those brave people who lost their lives in WW1;– simple and incredibly powerful.” Niamh, Volunteer
Musician Billy Bragg attended both Dorset events, taking part in open-mic sessions where members of the community shared stories, poetry and memories inspired by their personal connections to the First World War.
Poet Carol Anne Duffy was invited by Danny Boyle to write a poem to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. The poem, The Wound in Time, was read by individuals, families and communities as they gathered. Cards were distributed on beaches featuring different images of casualties from the First World War drawn from records held on the Pages of the Sea website, which includes records uploaded by the public and linking directly to the Imperial War Museum Archives; ‘Lives of the First World War’ website, which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth.
“It was the most ephemeral of tributes, yet all the more poignant for it.” The Telegraph
Activate were supported by a fantastic team of 76 volunteers from across the county and beyond, helping on the day with creating sand stencils, information, open mic and welcoming visitors.
Hundreds of people engaged with the special community programme delivered in the preceeding weeks by Activate including creative writing and family history workshops plus local WW1 history sessions.
“Danny Boyle devised a truly memorable project – directed and inspired by local communities all around our coastline. Pages of the Sea was a fitting tribute to the millions of men and women who lost their lives in the First World War.” Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW
Activate Performing Arts would like to thank all the community groups and organisations that helped deliver the project and supporting programmes:
ArtfulScribe, Dorset History Centre, Dorset Libraries Network, Lyme Regis Museum, The Marine Theatre, SWIM restaurant, Somerset and Dorset Family History Society, Waverley Community Hub, Westham Community Group, Weymouth and Portland Veterans Hub, Woodroffe School,
We would also like to thank all the staff and freelancers who made it all happen: Kate Wood, Bill Gee, Caroline Suri, Nicola Hawkins, Irene Archibald, Sarah Colwell, Mat Ort, Alan Rogers, Sarah Butterworth, Andrea Frankham-Hughes, Dom Kippin, Stephanie Clements, Micheala Shaw, Sammy Gillingham, Jude Allen, Cleo Evans, Gary Richards, Isla Chaney, Rachel Dunford, Megan Dunford, Stephen Harris, Martin Maudsley
“I invited communities to come together and watch as the faces of the fallen were drawn in the sand and to remember the sacrifices they made. Thank you to all the teams for their endless efforts to pull off a beautiful tribute to those represented and a special thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who made the day happen.” Danny Boyle