Artist’s WWI ‘Ghost Soldier’ Sculptures Are a Surprise Hit With UK Audiences, Raising Millions for Veterans

Thousands of “ghost soldiers” will appear seated in the pews of churches and cathedrals across the UK this summer in a World War I memorial artwork that aims to raise £15 million ($20 million) to help today’s veterans. The perspex or aluminium silhouettes of single uniformed figures are called “Tommies” after the slang for ordinary British soldiers.

Standing versions of the soldiers’ silhouettes made of aluminum have begun to appear to kick-start the project and its fundraising campaign. Venues include St Pancras Station in London. In less than a week the sale of sculptures totaled more than £1.3 million ($1.8 million) as individuals and community groups rushed to place their orders.

The project, which began in a village church in South East England, is the idea of the artist and photographer Martin Barraud. To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, in 2016, he placed 51 perspex Tommies in the pews of his local Anglican church in Penshurst, Kent. They represented each of the men of the village who died in the conflict and whose names are engraved on local memorials.

This simple installation has grown into a nation-wide project—and Barraud hopes it will become international. “I’ve had calls from Canada, America, and France, and the Australian High Commissioner [to the UK] picked out a story about it,” Barraud tells artnet News. He revealed that the giant Lochnagar crater on the Somme battlefield in France will be a venue. Other sites are due to be announced in April. The figures, which sell for between £30-£750, are being made by charities that employ ex-servicemen and women. Plaques for the names of the dead soldiers cost £10.  Read more
2018-10-29T09:41:26+00:00