An artwork by one of the UK’s best known artists, Bob and Roberta Smith, will be installed on the East Lawn at Belfast City Hall on Monday 4th August to mark the hour, 100 years ago, in which the First World War began.
Bob and Roberta Smith is one of four leading international artists commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the cultural programme for the WW1 Centenary commemorations, to create striking public artworks in Belfast, Edinburgh, Bangor (Wales) and London, as focal points for LIGHTS OUT.
LIGHTS OUT is an invitation to every building, every business and every community member in the UK to turn off their lights from 10pm until 11pm on 4th August, leaving on a single light or candle for this shared moment of reflection
Bob and Roberta Smith’s new work for LIGHTS OUT is a statement taken from the artist’s LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER: ‘What unites human beings, ears, eyes, loves, hopes and toes is huge and wonderful. What divides human beings is small and mean.’ The statement will form a luminous installation at City Hall, using letters designed and constructed together with local artists and community groups.
The artwork will be available to view from 6pm on 4th August at Belfast City Hall. Each letter of the statement accommodates a set of candles and at 10pm on Monday 4th August, the people of Belfast and beyond are invited to illuminate the artwork by candlelight in a moment of shared reflection.
Commenting Bob and Roberta Smith said: “I think that the common goals humanity aims for, love, peace and well-being, outweigh the things that divide us. The famous football match on Christmas day 1914 between Germans and allied troops enjoying sport together is emblematic of this feeling.”
The work is produced locally on the artist’s behalf by project managers Kim McAleese and Stephen Hackett. As Kim McAleese explained, the groups who designed and constructed the letters for the artwork are from a diverse range of backgrounds:
“The letters which form the statement are produced on 60x60cm plywood and are being created in a series of workshops across Belfast throughout the month of July. The workshop participants are reflective of the increasingly diverse nature of the population of Northern Ireland and span age, creed and ethnicity to deliver a powerful and universal message.”
Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Nicola Mallon, said City Hall’s East Lawn is a most appropriate site for the installation of the work.
“This is an ideal location for the public to engage with this commemoration and use the shared space to have quiet reflection,” she added.
Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “It is inspiring to see how artists and arts organisations in Northern Ireland are responding to the invitation to reflect on the centenary of the outbreak of the war. They are seizing this opportunity to create powerful new works and 14-18 NOW is delighted to collaborate with them all.”
This year, the 14-18 NOW programme in Northern Ireland includes Blood by Lemn Sissay at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry-Londonderry, and At Times Like These Men Were Wishing They Were all Kinds of Insects by Graham Gingles at The MAC in Belfast.
Everyone across Northern Ireland can participate by writing a Letter to an Unknown Soldier at www.1418now.org.uk/letter, and visit Bob and Roberta Smith’s Lights Out commission at Belfast City Hall while businesses and homes everywhere are invited to turn out their lights and illuminate a single window between 10 and 11pm on 4th August to mark the moment we entered the War.
Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has created an original LIGHTS OUT digital artwork in the form of an app, which anyone can download for free.
For more information about LIGHTS OUT and to find LIGHTS OUT events in your local area go to: www.1418NOW.org.uk/lightsout