Six stunning steel silhouettes have been unveiled today to commemorate the end of the First World War through real life experiences of local people during the conflict.
The panels will be on display to the public at Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Civic Centre in Stoke town until Friday, 26 October. After this they will be separated and one will be installed in each of the six towns, where it is hoped they will serve as a point of reflection and remembrance for the residents of Stoke-on-Trent.
They were designed by renowned Stoke-on-Trent artist Andy Edwards, whose works include celebrated statues of Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks, The Beatles and the 1914 Christmas Truce monument in Flanders, Belgium. Local training provider and social enterprise PM Training then took Andy’s designs, cut out the silhouettes and fabricated the arches in steel, at their Artworks studio in Newcastle-under-Lyme under the supervision of workshop manager, Phil Brown. Apprentice Luke Steadman, worked on the project as part of his NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations.
The silhouettes are 8ft tall and each feature a window scene depicting a different life story about what people from Tunstall; Burslem; Hanley; Stoke; Fenton and Longton experienced during the conflict. They include a VAD nurse tending to the injured, soldiers “going over the top”, war horses and touch on the subject of shellshock, now referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder. The silhouettes will leave a lasting legacy for residents to visit and reflect on the sacrifices made by their fellow citizens during the war.
Sculptor and PM Training’s resident artist, Andy Edwards said: “The silhouettes represent a window or doorway into our history and show the suffering as well as the resilience and spirit of the people of Stoke-on-Trent during the war.”
17-year-old apprentice Luke Steadman worked on the statues as part of his NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations. “It was a huge privilege to work on this project,” said Luke. “It’s so important to remember those who changed the future for so many by giving up their lives.”
Leader of the council, Ann James said: “The silhouettes are absolutely stunning. We wanted to make sure that Stoke-on-Trent plays its part in commemorating those who fought and lost their lives during the Great War and it’s fantastic that the young apprentices at PM Training have been so heavily involved in the making these poignant pieces of public art. They, Phil and Andy have done a remarkable job in bringing to life the experiences of people from Stoke-on-Trent during the conflict.”
Cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, Councillor Daniel Jellyman said: “Earlier in the year we asked our residents to tell us of the experiences that their loved ones had during the First World War as we know that so many people across our city contributed to the war effort. We were inundated with family stories and by displaying these amazing sculptures in each of the six towns we hope to create a focal point where residents can visit, reflect and remember.”
The silhouettes, which have been paid for by contributions from ward councillors and the city of culture legacy budget, form part of the four-year citywide Stoke-on-Trent Remembers campaign to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. A number of other organisations, including St. Modwen have contributed to this campaign and highlights include, a specially commissioned First World War remembrance trail, the Bethesda Our Boys First World War exhibition at Bethesda Chapel, a banner illustrating the battles fought by the 5th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment which is on display at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in an exhibition entitled For the Fallen, and of course the Remembrance services which will be held across the city on November 11. For full details of what is available please visit https://www.stoke.gov.uk/stokeremembers.
The silhouettes can be seen between 10am and 4pm from Wednesday, 17 October to Friday, 26 October.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 236156.