New exhibition on the horrific battle of the First World War open in Chester

Reporter:

Matt Warner

VISITORS have the chance to get an insight into one of the most arduous and horrific battles of the First World War.

A new exhibition, called The Battle of Mud, at The Cheshire Military Museum in Chester opened on Saturday as a commemoration of the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele.

The exhibition began as the country pauses to remember the sacrifices at Passchendaele on the 100th anniversary of the start of the battle, which is remembered as a gruelling slog through the mud and rain that lasted a total of one hundred and three days.

The exhibition will run until November, the same length of time as the actual battle, and will highlight the role played by each of the nine Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment that fought at Passchendaele.

As a part of the opening weekend the Cheshire Pals
re-enactment group were present in full battle dress to give members of the public an idea of what trench warfare was like and allow them to handle period uniforms and weaponry.

A museum spokesman said: “The weekend saw a high number of visitors with many people arriving just to see the new exhibition which will ensure that people never forget our servicemen or the sacrifices they made.”

Professor Helen Newall of Edge Hill University was also present over Saturday and Sunday with her incredibly moving art installation Remember Me. The installation is a collection of photographs from the Great War which serves to truly drive home the human element of the conflict

She said: “I have been collecting original photographs of Great War soldiers from antique shops and auctions for a while. As some commentators on First World War photography have noted, these men often had photographs taken for the first time because they thought it might be the last time they would get the chance. It really bothered me that I didn’t know who the people in these photos were, and I sought to change the people in the pictures from valuable collectible ‘objects’ back into subjects again.

“The work is a tension between the old technology of glass plate cameras; the chemical processes used to create cardboard photographic objects, and the new digital processes that make virtual images that often exist only in computer pixels and clouds and streams.”

As well as visual projections and soundscapes, the installation, described by Professor Newall as a ‘miniature museum’, also features physical photographs and relics from the trenches including a German bullet and a Vest Pocket Kodak camera used by a soldier.

Helen added: “The installation is still evolving, as I’m still discovering pictures and relics. Just recently I found a cap badge which matches one a soldier is wearing in one of the photographs, so that is the latest addition.”

Email:

matt.warner@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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