Sometimes art can be beautiful and swell the heart, or it challenges and leads you to re-examine your world view, but on rare occasions it does both. When this happens you find yourself left almost a new person, seeing the world through new eyes. I left the private view of the Children of the Great War feeling this way, as this is a work that explores one of the darkest periods in human history in a creative and exciting way that is rooted in the personal experience of those involved and their descendants.
Multimedia artists Ivan Riches and Simon Puriņš took their start point from the recorded history project undertaken by Age Exchange, the UK's leading charity working in the field of reminiscence, around personal histories of people whose families were touched by World War One, and created a stunning work. Age Exchange interviewed 127 Londoners, and digitalised over 5300 of the interviewees historic artefacts to ensure that these stories are not lost. This archive was then added to the international archive Europeana 1914-1918, allowing future generations to know the truth of the Great War. What Riches and Puriņš have done is taken 13 of these stories, shot as video interviews, and turned them into a stunning work of video art. This element of the work is the "portrait" section, and is engaging and intimate in it's form.
Next to this section runs the "landscape" element. This combines stunning images from the era the digitized artefacts from Age Exchange recorded history and photos taken by the artists during visits to modern day Flanders, all accompanied by original music by Ivan Riches, into a mesmerizing film. As you watch you are taken on a roller coaster of emotions as the pictures roll into each other. However the Children of the Great War is at it's best when you sit between the two screens playing each the "portrait" and "landscape" elements. The two are segued to work together as one piece, with the landscape element matching the personal stories of the portrait section. Together a door is opened into both the experience of living through World War One and of the legacy of this tragic era. The stories are touching and heart warming, and Riches and Puriņš have taken them and created a work that I feel will be seen as one of the most important and beautiful on the subject.
This showing was held at the APT Gallery, Deptford Jan 2015. For more information on the work and future exhibition follow the Facebook page.
Photographs by Diane Scarlet Wallace - Cleared for use