Pages of the Sea

Pages of the Sea

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On 11 November, tens of thousands of people took part in Pages of the Sea – a commission by filmmaker Danny Boyle, for 14-18 NOW, inviting people to gather on thirty-two beaches around the UK and Ireland for a gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.  

It was delivered in Northern Ireland and County Donegal by the Nerve Centre and National Trust, in partnership with Big Telly Theatre Company, Stendhal Festival, UV Arts, Artlink and Live Music Now.

On Murlough Beach the portrait of Rifleman John McCance from Dundrum emerged from the sand at sunrise. John McCance was born in Dundrum, enlisted in Downpatrick and died at Passchendaele. Music was provided by Mourne Community Choir and the public joined in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.

On Portstewart Strand Big Telly Theatre Company invited members of the public to help them create an artwork in the sand using stencils of portraits.

Port Bán, Dunree beach also unveiled a stunning large-scale portrait of Seaman John Buckley from County Cork who lost his life, along with 353 others, on the SS Laurentic after it sank at the mouth of Lough Swilly in 1917.  

The day finished on Downhill Beach with a large 30m square portrait of First World War Nurse, Rachel Ferguson. She died on 26th June 1918 at Bordighera, Italy whilst working for Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Members of the public had a spectacular view of the portrait from Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne with Stendhal Festival and Live Music Now providing music.

Poet Carol Ann Duffy was also invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which was read by individuals, families and communities as they gathered on the beaches.

The work was commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and 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 wok is in association with Aberystwth Arts Centre; The Grand Theatre of Lemmings; Magna Vitae; MOSTYN; SeaChange Arts; Swansea Council; Swansea University; Theatre Orchard; and VisitBlackpool.

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