Top image: view of the installation, One for Sorrow (range numbers),
a collaborative artwork by Art Gene’s Maddi Nicholson, Stuart Bastik and Charlie MacKeith, 2017

One for Sorrow…

The artwork, One for Sorrow, was developed by Art Gene as a final part of Fort Walney, Uncovered: an art, archaeology and community engagement project, co-created by local people on the sand dunes of the North Walney National Nature Reserve.

Starting in 2014, Fort Walney, Uncovered surveyed, explored and excavated the site’s former practice trenches, where soldiers and airmen trained for battle and trench life before being deployed to the conflict zones of both WW1 and WW2. (Find out more about the Fort Walney, Uncovered project by following the links below).

The artwork One for Sorrow was developed in response to the finds unearthed – and the growing comprehension that by exploring the site, the group were becoming responsible for all its souls.

The work alludes to the nature of loss, both in war and in the natural world.

Image above: (left) one of several bullets discovered during the onsite archeological excavation, (right) the commemorative plaque, part of the One for Sorrow installation.

Two for Joy…

Nature itself has reclaimed these practice trenches. Although a pattern in the terrain can clearly be seen from the air, previously only furrows, uneven ground and large, odd pieces of rusty metal were visible testament to the site’s military past.

Now, the Art Gene artistic team (in this case Maddi Nicholson, Stuart Bastik and Charlie MacKeith) has created a memorial artwork for the site. One for Sorrow consists of a series of engraved number markers which replicate (and physically replace on the site) the large numbers that the original rifle range would have had. On another part of the site – the entrance to the nature reserve – Art Gene, in close consultation with Natural England, designed, produced and installed a gate. This painted gate features a flock of 64 cast iron hand-painted British birds in military camouflage. The range numbers (crafted from orange corten steel) also have a further 7 of the cast birds resting on them. The third element to the installation, an orange steel information plaque is also on the former gun range. It commemorates with the wording:

‘Remembering the Fragility of People and Nature.’

The individual elements of the installation were first shown in the Art Gene Gallery in the 2017 STUFF exhibition – an overview exhibition of the many artworks made for and about Fort Walney, Uncovered project (find out more in the links below), before being permanently installed on site in April 2017.


The making of One for Sorrow:

Artist Stuart Bastik writes about the process and inspiration behind creating this artwork here.

Image below:  Detail of One for Sorrow (range numbers), Art Gene 2017
Colin Aldred, of Aerial Artwork (and former Art Gene board member) has made this short film documenting One for Sorrow:

Image below:  Detail of One for Sorrow (gate), Art Gene 2017
Art Gene’s Maddi Nicholson and Steve Benn from Natural England (Steve played a key role in ensuring the project was delivered in harmony with the ecology of the site).