Paintings commissioned by the British government in 1918 from some of the nation’s most prominent war artists will be part of a major new exhibition about the commemoration of the First World War at IWM North, Lest We Forget? These iconic works were intended for a First World War memorial gallery – the Hall of Remembrance – which was never built.
Ten works from this memorial will be united including renowned paintings by Paul Nash, Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis and John Singer Sargent, whose painting Gassed will return home from its two-year international tour for the exhibition. These works will be shown alongside over 180 objects, photographs, film clips, sound pieces and documents, which together will explore how symbols of commemoration from the poppy to the two minute silence have endured for a century and at times sparked controversy.
The First World War caused casualties on a shocking and unprecedented scale, with the human cost of the war becoming one of its defining legacies. Lest We Forget? will give visitors an understanding of how that cost in lives has directly influenced how we see the ‘Great War’. Conversely, the exhibition will also bring ‘remembrance’ right up to date – challenging the perceptions of the First World War that have become familiar to us through popular culture; from Blackadder to Birdsong.
From a photograph showing the selection of a body for The Unknown Warrior to the original Joey puppet from the National Theatre production of War Horse, the exhibits in Lest We Forget? will be used to look at commemoration of the war as a fluid concept, one which spans intensely personal mantelpiece memorials, grassroots community tributes, state rituals and memorials, as well as popular movements and cultural outpourings.
Lest We Forget? is part of Making a New World, a season of innovative exhibitions, installations and immersive experiences at IWM London and IWM North in 2018 which will explore how the First World War has shaped the society we live in today.
By experiencing the exhibition, visitors will see how remembrance has changed and been re-imagined over the past 100 years.
Entry to Lest We Forget? will be free of charge. A series of events programmed in response to the exhibition will take place at IWM North.
Lest We Forget?
IWM North, 27 July 2018 until 24 February 2019