Lance Corporal John Edward Arkwright (08 September 1890 – 26 August 1914), who lost his life in the First World War, will be commemorated by a large-scale sand portrait for Danny Boyle’s Armistice commission Pages of the Sea it was announced today. On Sunday 11 November, the public is invited to assemble at one of thirty-two beaches around the UK and the Republic of Ireland at low-tide for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.

A large-scale portrait of Lance Corporal John Edward Arkwright designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, will be drawn into the sand on the beach and washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict. Each of the beaches taking part in the project will commemorate a different WW1 casualty.

John  Arkwright  was  one  of  the  first  Lancastrians  killed  during  the  war.  He  was  born  in  Lancaster  and  from  1906  to  October  1913  he  was  a  member  of  the  1st  Battalion,  King’s  Own Royal  Lancaster  Regiment. From  the  available  records,  he  then  appeared  to  join  the  Lancashire Constabulary  and  in  April  of  the  following year  married  Isabella  Beaty,  living  at  West  Road, then  Clarence  Street,  Lancaster. At  the outbreak  of  war,  John was  a  lance  corporal  with  his  unit  stationed  in  Dover  and  quickly mobilised,  arriving  in  France  on  23  August  1914.  Three  days  later,  the  regiment  saw  bitter action  at  Haucourt,  during  the  battle  of  Le  Cateau,  a  vital  rearguard  action  following  the  Battle of  Mons,  itself  the  first  major  action  the  British  Expeditionary  Force  (BEF)  saw  in  France. Although  the  Germans  were  victorious,  the  battle  allowed  the  bulk  of  the  BEF  to  fall  back  to Saint  Quentin.  The regiment suffered many casualties and men taken prisoner. John himself was killed in action.

The portraits commemorate men and women who served or who were casualties of the First World War, most of whom died in active service. They were chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of interesting stories – ordinary people who gave their lives to the War effort covering a range of ranks and regiments, from doctors to munition workers, Privates to Lieutenants and Majors. A number were also notable war poets who translated the experience of war to those back at home. Many are from the regions or communities they will be featured in, others are from towns and cities not featured, or from international communities to show the scale of loss. These individuals are a just small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war.

The public is invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to thank and say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on 11 November at http://www.pagesofthesea.org.uk. The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add their own portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War. www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org

Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November. The Wound in Time will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on beaches on 11 November and is also available online. A series of community-led events will also be taking place at each beach. People who can’t make it on the day will be able to watch the activities and portraits from most of the beaches on social media on Sunday 11 November. The work is the culmination of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.

The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, and is the culmination of the five-year programme of arts commissions marking the First World War centenary. It is delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Sunderland Culture; Taliesin.  The work is in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre; The Grand Theatre of Lemmings; Magna Vitae; MOSTYN; SeaChange Arts; Swansea Council; Swansea University; Theatre Orchard; and Visit Blackpool.  Each has been invited to create their own event centering around the sand art on the beach and reading of the poem, tailored to reflect the sacrifices of their local community.

Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.

The public can see which beaches are taking part by visiting www.pagesofthesea.org.uk

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