UCL News


Shrouds of the Somme commemorates the centenary of Armistice Day

7 November 2018

November 11 marks Armistice Day: the end of hostilities between Germany and the Allies of World War I. On Sunday November 11, it will be one hundred years since the signing of the armistice that ended the war. 

Shrouds of the Somme

In commemoration of the centenary, November 8 sees the opening of a vast, extraordinary and powerful art installation, Shrouds of the Somme.

72,396 remembered at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Through hand-stitching and binding calico shrouds over human figures, artist Rob Heard has created 72,396 figures representing Commonwealth servicemen who died at the Battle of the Somme and have no known grave, many of whose bodies were never recovered, and whose names are engraved on the Thiepval Memorial.

"The enormous scale of the Shrouds of the Somme brings a genuine sense of the true cost of the conflict, whilst remembering those who gave their all as individual men. This will be an event of international importance which will resonate around the world."

Shrouds of the Somme Thiepval Memorial

Looking to the Thiepval Memorial, Rob Heard has individually crafted a figure for each name and laid it to rest within its own shroud. From November 8-18, all 72,396 of the fallen will lie shoulder to shoulder over 4,000 square metres, creating a moving memorial not far from where UCL's East London campus will eventually stand.

Supported by UCL Special Collections

Through designing and delivering 32 workshops to almost 1000 pupils in the four boroughs neighbouring the Olympic Park, UCL Special Collections has been a key partner in this project. By selecting and sharing items from UCL and affiliated archives, Special Collections reveals and recreates what life was like for soldiers at the Battle of the Somme.

UCL Special Collections' own Vicky Price (Education Coordinator) has been particularly busy sharing impactful war poetry from the Battle of the Somme with Year 9 students in Bow, and Year 7 students in Stratford. Many of the classes participating in the workshops will also have the opportunity to visit the installation, providing pupils an in-depth, enriching experience that gives pupils the opportunity to absorb the enormity of the Somme and its impact.

Lest we forget

From November 8-18, visit and experience this profound artwork which allows us to take a moment and remember those who laid down their lives for the freedom of future generations.

You can find the Shrouds of the Somme installation on the South Lawn at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2AD. For more information, visit www.shroudsofthesomme.com/events.

You can also honour the memory of one of the fallen servicemen by purchasing and naming one of the shrouded figures from the display at www.shroudsofthesomme.com/shop.

Robert Vilkelis