An exhibition looking at the longevity and controversies of commemoration following the First World War.
Part of a season of exhibitions, installations and events in 2018 that address themes of remembrance, Lest We Forget reflects on commemorative actions adopted at an individual, community and national level.
From the ‘Next of Kin Memorial Plaques’ that were sent to grieving families (earning the nickname ‘Dead Man’s Penny’), to exhibitions of official war photographs like See the War at the City Art Gallery in Leeds in 1919 – which was visited by 5,000 children – myriad initiatives marked a war in which the majority of bodies were not returned home, leaving people with a need for places to mourn.
Highlights include works created for the British War Memorial Committee’s planned ‘Hall of Remembrance’, an ambitious, specially built memorial that was to be filled with paintings by Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stanley Spencer, John Singer Sargent and more, but never came to fruition due to lack of funding after the war. Ultimately donated to the IWM collections, these pieces encapsulate the evolving process of attempting to draw meaning from human conflict almost impossible to understand.
Also on display from 8 September to 25 November 2018 is the touring iconic sculpture Poppies: Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. IWM London is presenting the sister sculpture Weeping Window (5 October to 18 November), and at the end of the tour, both sculptures will become part of the Imperial War Museums' collection.