14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary, today announced details of major events and new commissions taking place across Scotland in 2016 to mark the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme.
Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips will “dazzle” a ship in the historic port of Leith as part of Edinburgh Art Festival’s 2016 Commissions Programme; award-winning composer David Lang will premiere his choral piece Memorial Ground with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus at the East Neuk festival; and the iconic Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture will tour to Kirkwall in Orkney and the Black Watch Museum in Perth. Also included in the programme will be a new musical theatre trilogy by the National Theatre of Scotland exploring the lives of three soldiers shot for cowardice during the First World War, extraordinarily presented at dawn in a barn in the Perthshire countryside.
To mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, Ciara Phillips, artist and a long-term resident of Scotland, will “dazzle” the iconic vessel MV Fingal, berthed in the historic port of Leith. Phillips will put her own spin on the astonishing patterns that adorned battle-ready ships in Leith one hundred years ago. The recent brilliantly coloured Dazzle Ships in Liverpool and London have been the most striking symbols of the centenary commemoration period to date. The ship at Leith will be unveiled in May and will form a central element of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2016. The event is supported by the Scottish Government and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Marking one hundred years since the Battle of the Somme, East Neuk Festival will present the world premiere of Memorial Ground by award-winning American composer David Lang on 2 July 2016. Paul Hillier and his acclaimed Theatre of Voices ensemble will perform with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus and amateur choirs from around Fife. In the months following the premiere, the choral piece will be shared with professional and amateur choirs throughout the UK, inviting them to personalise the piece. The project will culminate in a UK-wide participation event to mark the anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme in November. The event is supported by Creative Scotland.
The Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture will go on display at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, from 22 April to 12 June 2016 to commemorate one hundred years since the Battle of Jutland. Poppies: Weeping Window is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War. Weeping Window is the cascade of poppies that was seen pouring out of a high window down to the grass below. Following the installation in Orkney, the sculpture will go on show at the Black Watch Museum in Perth from 29 June to 25 September.
Also presented as part of the programme in Scotland will be The 306: Dawn, the first part of a new musical theatre trilogy directed by the National Theatre of Scotland’s Artistic Director Laurie Sansom, written by Oliver Emanuel and composed by Gareth Williams. Based on real events, it charts the heart-breaking journey of three of the 306 British soldiers who were executed for cowardice and desertion during the First World War. Uniquely, the play will be performed in a transformed barn in the Perthshire countryside from 24 May – 11 June, with a special performance at dawn on 28 May.
Jenny Waldman, Director, 14-18 NOW, said:
“One hundred years ago this year, the First World War was entering its darkest days. As the conflict entered its third year it must have felt as though the war would last forever, a sensation heightened by the intense brutality of the Battle of the Somme. We are delighted to be working with world-class artists and cultural organisations in Scotland to create extraordinary arts events that connect people with how the lives of Scottish people were affected by the First World War as well as its lasting impact on the world today.”
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:
“We must never forget the impact the First World War had on our families, Scottish communities and across the rest of the UK and Europe. The conflict claimed more than 100, 000 Scottish lives and left many more people injured and disabled.
The 14-18 NOW arts programme will give people across Scotland the opportunity to learn more about how the First World War changed Scotland and the world forever. I’d encourage people of all ages to get involved in the extensive programme of events, which range from a dazzle ship in Leith to a musical theatre trilogy that will premiere Perth before communities from across Scotland and the UK are invited to personalise and perform the piece.
The Battle of the Somme will also be remembered by award-winning American composer David Lang who will present the world premiere of his new work Memorial Ground as part of the East Neuk Festival in Fife, while the Theatre of Voices ensemble will perform with singers from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus and amateur choirs from around the Kingdom.”
Janet Archer, CEO, Creative Scotland, said:
“Creative Scotland is proud to be working in partnership with 14-18 NOW to support extraordinary events in Scotland in 2016 that will both commemorate the First World War and connect people with its powerful stories. Coinciding with the anniversary of the Somme and lasting for the 21-week duration of the Battle, Memorial Ground will be a unique, moving and important testament to the spirit of those who lost their lives, and their loves. We are anticipating many moments across the year, such as Dazzle Ship and Weeping Window, where the work of artists touches people deeply in communities in different parts of Scotland ensuring that the history of the First World War resonates with our lives today.”
Rear Admiral Neil Rankin CB CBE, Chairman, The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, said:
“We are delighted that our new acquisition MV Fingal has been chosen to be dazzle painted, because of the significant role the Historic Port of Leith played in WWI, and 1916 being a particularly noteworthy year: with events including the German Zeppelin air raid bombing of the docks that April, followed by the departure in May of the ships in the Grand Fleet, heading for the Battle of Jutland.”
Across the UK, from Orkney to Brighton, artists have been invited by 14-18 NOW and partner organisations to create new works in response to the First World War and its impact on today’s world. Taking place between 22 March and 18 November 2016, the new works’ themes include the changing role of women, the treatment of conscientious objectors and the contribution of Asian soldiers.
14-18 NOW is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 14-18 NOW is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums.
14-18 NOW would like to acknowledge their partnership with the BBC and Scottish Commemorations Panel on projects in the 2016 season.
For details of the full programme please see: