14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War. The programme takes place from 2014 to 2018 and is timed to mark the centenary of the war, which raged across Europe, Asia and Africa from 1914 to 1918.
14-18 NOW commissions artists from all art forms to look afresh at this conflict and create shared experiences exploring this significant moment in time, working with cultural organisations across the UK to commission new art, theatre, film, dance, digital, music, poetry and mass-participation events.
The organisation firmly believes in the transformative power of the arts to bring the stories of the First World War to life. Perceptions of the war have been shaped by the artists of the time, including poets, painters, photographers and film-makers – many of whom served and who reflected on the war and its effects. One hundred years later, today’s artists are opening up new perspectives on the present as well as the past.
Campaign or initiative
End of Empire by Yinka Shonibare MBE at Turner Contemporary
- 22 March — 30 October 2016 *on now
Shonibare’s new work features two of his signature figures attired in African fabrics, their globe-heads highlighting the countries involved in WW1. Offering a metaphor for dialogue, balance and conflict, the entire work pivots almost imperceptibly in the gallery space, symbolising the possibility of compromise and resolution between two opposing forces.
How has immigration contributed to the British culture in which we live today? How have immigrants shaped what it means to be British? These are the questions Shonibare asks in The British Library, a sculptural work presented alongside End of Empire at Turner Contemporary. Shelves of books, many bearing the name of an immigrant who has enriched our society (from TS Eliot to Zaha Hadid), remind us that the displacement of communities by global war has consequences that inform our lives and attitudes today.
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Turner Contemporary.
- Any age
Fashion & Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery
- 13 May — 27 November 2016 *on now
One of the most radical changes at home during the war was the huge change in women’s lives and work. With the men away fighting, more than one million women went to work for the first time during the war years – in munitions factories and on the buses, driving ambulances and even ‘manning’ the London Underground. These new responsibilities gave women new freedoms – and they also led to a new look, as tight corsets and heavy skirts were replaced by more natural and fluid silhouettes. A century later, this era has inspired Fashion & Freedom, an ambitious, multi-faceted exhibition that examines the fashion legacy of the First World War for the 21st century.
From the doyenne of British fashion, Vivienne Westwood, to Belgrade-born, London-based designer Roksanda Ilincic and rising star J JS Lee, leading female fashion designers are creating contemporary pieces inspired by the profound changes in women’s dress that occurred during the First World War. These exclusive designs are being presented in an exhibition alongside historic wartime selections drawn from Manchester Art Gallery’s renowned costume collection.
A series of specially commissioned original short films complement the garments on display, including films by directors from Nick Knight’s award-winning SHOWstudio, who pioneered fashion film online. Luke Snellin has written and directed first, which reimagines a young woman’s first day at work as a bus conductor, with uniforms designed by Manchester fashion label Private White V.C. The films will be shown in the Gallery and across digital screens in Manchester, as well as online.
Fashion & Freedom also showcases the next generation of fashion talent through contributions from students at five British fashion colleges, working to the First World War-influenced theme of Restriction and Release. The new designs, the films and the students’ contributions combine to bring a modern-day sensibility to the fashions of this landmark era in women’s history.
Darrell Vydelingum is the Creative Director of Fashion & Freedom.
Co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW and Manchester Art Gallery, supported by the British Fashion Council
- Any age
Manchester Art Gallery
Poppies: Weeping Window at Caernarfon Castle
- 11 October — 20 November 2016 *on now
Poppies: Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high point to the ground below. This breath-taking sculpture was initially conceived as one of the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. By artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, Poppies: Weeping Window is now being brought to audiences at venues across the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. As with all 14-18 NOW projects, the presentation of these sculptures to new audiences across the United Kingdom aims to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.
- Any age
Imperial War Museum