Students at Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield have helped to create a portable piece of artwork that will be used to help youngsters learn about the First World War.
Based on the poignant Shot At Dawn memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the miniature piece of art comprises clothes pegs that have been painted and etched with the names of 306 soldiers who were shot for cowardice during the war and subsequently pardoned in 2006 after a long campaign by families of the men and supporters.
A 307th peg has been added to include the name of one of the main characters in Michael Morpurgo’s book Private Peaceful, which tells the tale of a brother who faced a firing squad after a bloody battle.
The artwork is the brainchild of English teacher and photographer Alison Fawdrey, who is keen to educate children about the First World War through First World War poetry and fictional texts, such as Morpurgo’s War Horse and Private Peaceful.
She said: “I wanted to make a portable piece of art that can be taken into classrooms, and was keen to get children were involved in the creation. We started a slice of tree with 307 holes drilled into it and each soldier is represented by a wooden peg. It is a fantastic art piece and one that will undoubtedly capture the imaginations of students when they learn about the War.”
The ‘heads’ of the pegs have been dipped in paint and an aerial view reveals the image of a poppy, which was the idea of Tom Powers, a year 8 Maple Hayes School pupil. To recognise his contribution to the art project, his painted peg has been placed in the very centre of the art piece.
A peg has been sent to Michael Morpurgo to decorate for Private Peaceful, while Andy DeComyn, the artist who created Shot At Dawn, which portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake ready to be shot by a firing squad, has also decorated a peg. Another has been painted by an expert witness who gave evidence in the class action for the 306 to be pardoned.
Dr Daryl Brown, headteacher at Maple Hayes School, said: “Being involved in project such as this is a real privilege because our pupils have the opportunity to assist the artist - and as Tom found out, his contribution can make a real difference to the overall aesthetic.”
Andy DeComyn’s memorial portrays a young British soldier blindfolded and tied to a stake ready to be shot by a firing squad.
Pegs have also been decorated with pictures, patterns, words or poems by pupils at Chadsmoor Junior School, Cannock, and scouts and cubs from the 1st Norton Canes pack.