Featherstone Town Council launches film for ‘Fighting From Home’ a new art project at Mill Pond Meadows

Over the last six months, artist Luke Perry has been researching and developing a new artwork for Mill Pond Meadows supported by a project grant from Arts Council England.

‘Fighting From Home’ is a project exploring the wider impacts of WWI on society and the town resulting in an exciting new series of sculptures that shine a light on the non-combat heroes of the war.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new film on Remembrance Day (11.11.20) providing an insight into Luke’s research that shaped the development of his ideas for the artwork, which is accompanied by a booklet that will be available to collect at Featherstone Community Centre, details of this will follow shortly. In addition, Luke has also created a film for children alongside activity worksheets, which have been shared amongst our local schools.

Luke’s research revealed that in 1914, Featherstone was like many new industrial towns, hard working, socially driven and largely poor. Whilst there are many sculptures in the UK, France and Belgium dedicated to soldiers who went to War, Luke is interested in celebrating those who helped win the War from home. Luke’s journey led him to understand exactly how brave, fresh thinking and similar the people of Featherstone’s lives were over 100 years ago as they are today.

His research has shown a massive pulling together of people all fighting from their hometown to support those in need overseas whether they were soldiers, loved ones or strangers. These sculptures will each be dedicated to a group of amazing people, each of whom were a vital part of the war effort.

The artwork will include six figurative sculptures designed to be representative of: The Coal works/ workers; Local Issues; Munitions Girls; Loss; Women’s Changing Roles; Children’s Contributions and Suffering. The sculptures will be constructed in a similar form to War Horse to ensure they are complementary, placed in an arc around the corner of Mill Pond Meadows. The design proposals are currently awaiting planning approval.

Luke said:

The opportunity to create a part of this artwork in recognition of the ‘Munitions Girls’, specifically the Barnbow workers is one which makes me very proud and excited. The recognition of these brave and steadfast women is long overdue; they were just one part of the huge movement towards female equality that we are still fighting today. These women stepped up to fill the footsteps of their male counterparts with dignity and strength and when the war was over were forced back into their previous ‘female’ roles. Their success and ability was not forgotten however, and it certainly aided the cause of Suffrage – that is to say representation and the vote which was given to a portion of women shortly after the armistice in 1918 and to all women in 1928.”

Mayor Cllr Steve Vickers said

Luke has shown great versatility that has helped in his research and design development during this Covid epidemic and has adapted superbly well to produce this remarkable first class film. We are looking forward to 2021 when we hope to see Luke’s artistic vision turned into a reality at Mill Pond Meadows to recognise the resilient spirit of our community during WWI.”

A booklet will be produced and will be available to collect from the Town Council office Details to follow shortly.

We would like to say a special thanks the following people for their ongoing support for this project: Girnhill Lane Infants School, Purston Infants School, Streethouse Primary School, North Featherstone Junior & Infants School, All Saints Primary School, St Thomas’ C of E Junior School, Ian Clayton, Featherstone Historical Society, Featherstone Library and Beam arts organisation who have been managing the project.

You can view more of Luke’s in depth research here.

Image: Featherstone women being driven to Munitions Works Sourced via Featherstone Library Collection, as compiled by Irvin Saxton

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