WW1 Exhibition at the DLI, researching the collection

 WW1 artefacts at the DL

Handling WW1 artefacts at the DLI

I am very busy with a very exciting project at the Durham Light Infantry Museum & Gallery.

The exhibition is launched on 6th June at 6 pm and will be open for 2 weeks.  Find out more here.

Along with other creative people including painters, textile & ceramic artists, I am preparing an exhibit as my interpretation of World War 1. Together these exhibits from 14 artists will make up the Always Remember, Never Forget exhibition to commemorate the centenary of World War 1 (7th to 22nd June 2014) supported by Durham Creatives.

I have decided to write & record their story as I imagine it.

For my exhibit I have chosen to write about 2 fascinating artefacts from the DLI WW1 collection. The twist and turns of their own true stories and have been lost in the intervening years and so I have decided to write & record their stories as I imagine them. This recording will be available for people to hear at the exhibition alongside seeing these objects on display.


WW1 Sweetheart pin cushion

WW1 Sweetheart pincushion

The first one is a Sweetheart Pincushion, made by recuperating soldiers in hospitals usually France & sent to their loved ones at home – a symbol of recuperation. My second artefact from the collection was a German miltary ‘Picklelhaube’ helmet. I chose this archetypal black German helmet with a silver badge & spike as a contrasting symbol of confrontation & I also wanted to look at the war from a German point of view. I hope that my stories will help people to reflect World War I from a different perspective.
As part of finding inspiration for my stories, I have been behind the scenes at the DLI Museum, wearing white cotton gloves as I carefully handled the pincushion & helmet. I jotted down in pencil everything I observed and felt through my senses about their overall shape and also their fine details. This familiarity was important as I wanted to write in the first person as if I was the pincushion & the Pickelhaube telling their stories and I also need to do further research so that I could see the world as they would see it almost 100 years ago.

Pickelhaube - a WW1 German military helmet

Pickelhaube – a WW1 German military helmet

Coming home with all my notes, ideas started to form to express the Sweetheart Pincushion as a poem and the Pickelhaube as a monologue. There’s still a lot of work to do on it but I am very excited at what might develop and also to explore the way that a writer can reach an audience with their work through exhibition. But most of all, I want my work to respect both the objects and their owners from a century ago.