Katrina Palmer’s The Coffin Jump is inspired by the role of women in the First World War, with specific reference to the all-female First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY). Founded in 1907, the FANY helped to treat and evacuate wounded men from the battlefields, linking the front line with field hospitals.
Visitors to Yorkshire Sculpture Park will see an intervention in the landscape, comprising an inscribed fence above a trench. Occasionally activated by a horse and rider, Palmer’s work combines sculpture, soundtrack and performance, and symbolises the new freedoms afforded to women in the war.
In spite of the nurses’ courage, the British Army initially refused to be associated with the women of the FANY, so instead they gave medical support to the Belgian and French armies. Later, they also helped to run medical convoys and drove ambulances in support of British forces. Palmer makes reference to their battle against prejudice through words drawn from sources that include the diaries of FANY member Muriel Thompson.
Inscribed on the obstacle over which the horse leaps, phrases such as ‘woman saves man’ and ‘nothing special happened’ highlight the everyday heroism of women during the First World War.
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, made possible with Art Fund support.
Special thanks to Sir David Verey, The Henry Moore Foundation and The Clothworkers’ Company.
With additional support from Melanie Gee, Larissa Joy and thanks to Midge & Simon Palley, Nicholas & Jane Ferguson and Tony & Tiger McCallum.