The Lost Boys project continues the collaboration between the BCB, Steve Dixon and local schools and colleges. The BCB hope the next step of this is to involve the local community in replacing a missing memorial plaque in Stoke Minster. Within Stoke Minster, there are a series of wooden plaques memorializing all who fought in Wedgewood’s Battalion and lost their lives. Tragically, the last panel is missing meaning Wedgewood himself isn’t currently being remember in this way.
With Ceil Wedgewood playing such a big role in the research undertaken by the Students so far, the fact that he himself isn’t being memorialized has given even more importance to getting the missing panel replaced.
To explore possible ways of replacing the plaque, the BCB wanted to gain local opinion on the matter as well as how younger generations see the history and heritage of the Potteries.
Stoke Sixth Form College hold a meeting for students to debate all sorts of issues such equality, sexuality and national and local news stories. Katie Leonard was invited to present the Lost Boys project so far and the next possible ideas moving forward to gain their thoughts.
The debating group is not compulsory for any students which made having a great turn out even more encouraging. Katie explained what the BCB do to given context to the project regarding the ‘Resonate’ installation in the festival and the ‘Resonance’ travelling exhibition Steve Dixon is currently doing.
The question she asked the students was ‘Is clay the right material to memorialize?’ to discover if they had a connection with the material and if they believe clay would be fitting to use in a memorial such as the plaque in Stoke Minster. Here are some of the thoughts thrown into the mix:
‘What clay would be used?’
‘It would be great to make a connection between where the clay used came from and where the fighting took place.’
‘Would Wedgewood be kept in mind?’
‘We should look into the animals that feel with the soldiers such as the horses as they gave their lives too.’
‘Clay seems like the perfect material to use but each and every soldier should be remembered in clay not just the final panel, all are important.’
‘Do we have all of the names that are missing and how can we find them if not?’
This is where Katie shared that this is where the students could come in as volunteer investigators and researchers to find out the people who were on the missing panel. The project aims to get as many students as possible to come in not only to help uncover the lost stories of these soldiers but to learn more about their own areas history and heritage.
Secondly, the matter of longevity was bought up and whether having the memorial in ceramic would last longer than the rest of the panels which are made out of wood. We assume that the lost panel was destroyed by rot so having the new one made in a different material may be beneficial.
Some more thoughts were:
‘Who would own it?’
‘How can we preserve it should something happen to Stoke Minster?’
These points are definitely something to think about when commissioning the work but hopefully, because Stoke Minster is so accessible and had a healthy congregation, nothing will happen to the building in the near future.
Some of the students wanted to know who would design the replacement plaque.
‘Would you keep the design the same as the ones made of wood?’
‘I think it is essential to keep the old theme so we don’t take away from the period in which the originals were made, trying to remember not recreate.’
‘Too modern may offend some of the people attending the church but I agree we don’t want a pastiche of the past either.’
It was discuss that a local survey with the church goers would be good to get local opinion on design. The initial design ideas will hopefully be worked on with an artist and a group of students that have engaged in the research around the soldiers and their stories.
Lastly, Katie wanted establish what everyone’s thoughts were about the act of memorializing war. Is it a remembrance of the bravery and strength of the people who fought or is it a glorification of war and violence. The most memorable memorial to war at the moment was the display of poopies at the Tower of London on rememberance day which is now traveling around the UK. The act of wearing the poppy is a public sign of remembering World War 1 that is very popular but has had mixed responses from people for years especially the colour that is used.
Many see the colour red as sign of violence, blood and death whereas some see it as bravery and the life given to save our country. Many have said the rose should have been white to symbolize peace. Discussing this with the group many thought that white stood for surrendering and giving up.
‘There shouldn’t be a debate around colour. There should be no right or wrong way of remembering someone.’
Katie asked what the students would do if the poppy could be re-designed in clay.
‘The colours could be combined.’
‘The poppy should be natural. Keep the raw clay material as the surface and colour.’
‘If it is made of clay they should be natural colour of clay. That’s the way it was intended to be.’