There But Not There
Artist’s WWI Tommy Sculptures Raising Millions for Veterans
Thousands of “ghost soldiers” will appear seated in communities and businesses across the UK this summer in a World War I memorial artwork that aims to raise £15 million to help today’s veterans.
The project, which began in a village church in South East England, is the idea of the artist and photographer Martin Barraud. In 2016, to honor all those names on the memorial wall of his local Anglican Church, he placed 51 Silhouettes made from PERSPEX® Clear acrylic, in the pews. They represented each of the men of the village who died in the conflict and whose names are engraved on local memorials.
Standing Tommies (a slang word used for ordinary British soldiers in World War I) - made of either PERSPEX® acrylic, steel or aluminium have begun to appear to kick-start the project and its fundraising campaign. Venues include St Pancras Station in London, the Tower of London and on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. In less than a week the sale of sculptures totalled more than £1.3 million as individuals and community groups rushed to place their orders.
In addition to the life-size Tommies, a limited-edition table-top Tommy figure has been created, to represent every single name from the 888,246 British and Commonwealth Fallen of the First World War. The 25cm high replica figures made from PERSPEX® acrylic are available for the public to buy from the TBNT store, with the ability to have the name of the person you wish to remember engraved on the base of the statue.
The profits from the sale of the Tommies will enable Remembered, who runs the project, to support the following charities: The Royal Foundation, Walking With The Wounded, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation and Project Equinox: Housing Veterans. Each of the Tommies and their commemorative packaging are made by veterans employed by the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI).
Industrial Designer, Sir Kenneth Grange, sums it up rather beautifully, “Tommy knew about materials. And an early primitive material was PERSPEX® (acrylic). As a small boy, I knew PERSPEX® (acrylic) as the blister thru which our Spitfire heroes saw their war. And that same; crystal clear, safer and better than glass – it made millions of the artefacts of our lives. Remarkably it is still with us now and when I saw it in an ethereal role as a still silent silhouette in a church pew, it was both the appropriate material and fitting in its silent perfect message – a brilliant clarity and a telling outline. No placard, no noise, not one word needed. We all knew that silhouette, it will never fade – it was exactly that: There But Not There.”
*Photo Credit: Remembered/There But Not There.