Robert Lawrence: WWI Centenary Memorial
Aberdeenshire-based sculptor Robert Lawrence has recently been commissioned to create a First World War Centenary Memorial to honour the numerous men of Benholm and Johnshaven who died during the conflict.
The work, carved from Scottich grown sustainable larch, was commissioned by Benholm & Johnshaven Heritage Society to display a commemorative booklet which records details of those who are named on Johnshaven War Memorial.
In his text accompanying the work, art historian Griffin M Coe states: "This sculpture not only evokes reflective and elegiac feelings but also encapsulates the suffering, the loss and the enormity of sacrifice made during the First and Second World Wars and subsequent conflicts by the armed services and the wider community."
"The expressions of human suffering on the figures on the stand are contrasted with the weapons of war, painted rifles underneath, as the objects that embody death, destruction and the cause of suffering."
Robert Lawrence, the creator of the work, explains: "The sculpture depicts both a man and a woman to highlight the fact that wars are not a male-only sacrifice. The woman has been left entirely alone, utterly bereft, and without the future she had once taken for granted. The soldier is malnourished, numbed by his experiences and emptied of emotion by all he has seen."
"The white painted rifles which support the structure, represent the futility of war, and show signs of use by their former bearers. Despite the notion of 'a war to end all wars', the rifles are ready for further action, which of course, took place only 21 years later."
The memorial was unveiled on Sunday 10th November 2019 as part of the Benholm and Johnshaven Remembrance Service, and is on permanent display inside the Johnshaven Heritage Hub Museum, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It also features a short poem by the Scottish war poet, Ewart Alan Mackintosh, written in 1916.
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