Glasgow Museums will exhibit the 6-feet-tall Italian marble work across three museums during a three year loan period, in support of Poppyscotland. It depicts the last tree remaining on a First World War battlefield, depicting a symbol of hope and survival. The sculpture will also be shown at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Riverside Museum during 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Caroline Barr, manager of the People’s Palace oversaw the installation in the main foyer of the museum, alongside 92-year-old veteran Ian Forsyth MBE, who served in the 15th-19th Hussars in World War Two. They were joined by the sculpture’s creator Simon Burns-Cox, who explained a little of his inspiration for the piece.
Simon Burns-Cox said: “To see France 1914 on display in Glasgow during such an important and poignant period is wonderful. I created this artwork in the likeness of the last tree standing in the battlefield. Despite the desolation and destruction it stands proudly as a symbol of hope for the future. By donating it to Poppyscotland and having it displayed here I believe that it is helping to support the charity’s vital work, giving veterans and their families hope for the future.”
World War II veteran Ian Forsyth MBE said: “I am honoured to be one of the first people to see this magnificent sculpture. I believe it is important for people to learn about the impact of war and the sacrifices made, past and present. I think that engaging people through art is an excellent way for the younger generation to connect to this period in history and I encourage people to come and see this thought-provoking work.”
Colin Flinn, Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Glasgow Museums to display France 1914 during the First World War commemorations. Poppyscotland was founded in the aftermath of this terrible conflict and, sadly, one hundreds years on we are needed more than ever. We hope that when people come to see this striking sculpture they think about those who continue to be affected by the consequences of their military service, and the need to support them.”
Glasgow Museums hope France 1914 will invite visitors to consider how contemporary artists express commemoration of World War I from the present day view and environment. The interpretation panel that accompanies the sculpture will encourage people to think about how the sculpture makes them feel and to contemplate the suffering and sacrifice made by so many in the hope of securing a peaceful and better future. It will also detail how the public can contribute to Poppyscotland.
Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham OBE, said: “Glasgow Museums is honoured to work with Poppyscotland and to be able to share Simon’s powerful sculpture with our visitors over the coming three years. The First World War inspired and continues to inspire artists to create stimulating, challenging works. This piece beautifully complements other World War I themed pieces we have on show and is the first in a series of new works that we plan to display as part of the city’s commemorations.
“Exhibiting the sculpture across three venues over three years is testament to the importance of the subject it explores. We have a duty to ensure these stories are never forgotten. I hope that visitors to the People’s Palace will stop and take a minute to think about the enormous impact of war, the suffering and sacrifices made in the past, and during conflicts that continue to affect so many people today.”
The People’s Palace is Glasgow’s social history museum, narrating the story of the people and the city from 1750 to the end of the 20th century. Over 20,000 Glaswegians lost their lives in World War I alone. The addition of France 1914 strengthens the museum’s World War displays, located on the first floor. Personal accounts enable visitors to better imagine life during these periods.
For more information please visit www.glasgowmuseums.com