2017 marks the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the most infamous of the First World War. This small Belgian town has become a symbol of the horror and loss of war, a place forever reflective of the conflict’s human sacrifice and destruction.
This September an international consortium of blacksmiths and farriers will come together to create a dramatic new cenotaph in Flanders to commemorate this battle, and to remember the wider suffering of World War One. Standing in front of the In Flanders Fields Museum at Ypres’ Grote Markt, and adjacent to the German War Memorial Cemetery at Langemark Poelkapelle, the striking new monument will stand seven metres tall, weighing 12 tonnes. This 21st century cenotaph will feature the evocative image of a single Flanders poppy surrounded by an awe-inspiring field of 2016 handcrafted steel poppies.
One of the hundreds of metalworkers taking part in this unique event is local architect and artist-blacksmith Alan Dawson, who will be exhibiting his design drawings, ironwork and steel poppies at Florence Arts Centre from Saturday 9 July to Sunday 7 August, ahead of the ceremony in Belgium in September. This will be a great opportunity to see some of the complete work alongside the artist’s preliminary sketches and inspiration. We are also privileged to be able to have some of the steel poppies for sale during the exhibition – all money raised goes directly to fund the project – you can find out more about donating to this once in a lifetime collaboration as well as more information about the event, the process and those taking part at the Ypres 2016 website.
Make sure you visit us in July to see part of what will be one of the most memorable and moving public works of art created in modern times.