The leaves have been decorated with family stories, names of soldiers, poems, photographs and drawings. Through the sessions we have shared our thoughts and feelings, and have remembered some of the lives lost through our creative writings and messages of appreciation.
When developing this project I chose oak leaves to represent the fallen after discovering that the oak leaf has significance locally and nationally. Many of the Cheshire Regiments battalions were formed on the Wirral with their emblem being a spray of oak leaves with an acorn as the center focus. Also It was decided during the Great War that a ‘sprig of oak leaves’ as an emblem could be worn with the ribbon of the Victory Medal, signifying a mention in dispatch.
As artist in residence at Prenton High School for Girls I have been working with the community on The Fallen Oak leaf Project to commemorate the Centenary of the end of World War One.
A large installation displaying leaves from Britain's Oak trees to represent the fallen is now on display at the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead.
The exhibition has brought together the work of Prenton High School for Girls students and staff, Woodchurch, Mendell, Church Drive, Bedford Drive, Brackenwood, Well Lane, Woodlsee, Cathcart Street, Rock Fery, Woodslands and the Priory Parich CE Primary Schools along with Wilfred Owen Commemoration community workshops in The Williamson Art Gallery and The Wilfred Owen Commemoration shop.
The back of the leaf remembering Wilfred Owen reads:
Wilfred Owen was killed in action one week before the siging of the Armistice.
His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day.
The leaves on display at the Williamson Art Gallery.
The idea of the Fallen Oak leaf Project began with Frederick William Hughes. He was my Great Grandmothers brother. I had previously dedicated a piece of artwork to his memory and had wanted to develop something more personal which would tell the story I knew of him.
Frederick received his papers to enlist in the army when he was 19 in 1914. He was an amateur artist and would entertain soldiers in the trenches with drawings that reminded them of home, but he didn't use a pencil and paper. Soldiers used billy cans to eat bully beef out of. If soldiers had to eat it cold they'd light a candle under the can to warm it up. Candles soot marked the bottom of the can and Frederick would draw pictures in the soot of the upside down can using a stick or nail.
Frederick died aged 21 in 1917 fighting for his country.
Front of leaf Back of leaf
My subject is war and the pity of war.
The poetry is in the pity.