“May is a busy and exciting month for the 14-18 NOW programme. We’re launching no fewer than nine new works in the next three weeks, across the UK from Brighton to Perth. Created by leading artists working across all areas of the arts, these powerful pieces capture the tremendous creativity of our five-year programme – bringing WW1 to life while considering how it still affects our world today.
This week, we’re delighted to be launching Fashion & Freedom, which looks at the role of women during WW1 through the lens of fashion. This major exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery features exclusive pieces from leading designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Roksanda, alongside new films, designs from the country’s top fashion students and rare period clothing. We’ll also be exploring the subject of women during wartime in The Forbidden Zone, an enthralling new multimedia stage piece directed by Katie Mitchell at the Barbican in London.
Two works this month mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the deadliest battle in British military history. Welsh National Opera premiere In Parenthesis at Cardiff Opera House, Iain Bell’s compelling adaptation of the epic poem by writer, painter and WW1 infantryman David Jones.
In Norwich, meanwhile, an array of acclaimed contemporary writers have created new works inspired by WW1 for two unique poetry projects. Fierce Light features poems from poets including Bill Manhire and Jackie Kay alongside a series of specially commissioned short films that you’ll be able to see on our website. And for Still, which opens on the same day, Simon Armitage has written a series of new poems inspired by haunting aerial images of WW1 battlefields from the IWM archives.
In Brighton, pioneering theatre group Nutkhut will be telling the forgotten story of the South Asian soldiers who fought for the Allies during WW1. Those who were injured on the frontline were brought to recuperate at the Brighton Pavilion – which is where you can see Dr Blighty, an immersive installation that also features performances, spectacular projections and a special closing concert as part of the 50th Brighton Festival.
Premiering in Perth, The 306: Dawn is the first in a trilogy of plays with the National Theatre of Scotland that tell the stories of soldiers convicted of cowardice, mutiny or desertion. Also in Scotland, Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips is launching the latest in our nationwide series of Dazzle Ships at Leith Docks in Edinburgh.
Acclaimed illustrator, filmmaker and musician Dave McKean presents a special multimedia performance in Kendal to launch Black Dog – The Dreams of Paul Nash, a brand new book inspired by the compelling works of one of Britain’s most acclaimed WW1 artists. And finally, our nationwide tour of the much-loved Poppies, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, reaches the historic Lincoln Castle.
Find out more about all our events, many of which are free, on this website, as well as video footage and archive information exploring the history of the First World War which has inspired these projects. I very much hope you’ll be able to join us.”
Director, 14-18 NOW