‘Never Forgotten’ by Nic Joly is a poignant commemorative piece to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The artist, who is known for his minuscule pieces of sculptural theatre, has created 1,566 bronze pieces, reflecting the number of days that the First World War was fought, and they will be sold through Castle Galleries from August 4, 100 years to the day that Britain declared war on Germany. Joly has also included information on the back of every one to explain what happened on that particular day, making each one unique.
Each piece costs £695 and £100 from each sale will be donated to The Royal British Legion.
The artwork depicts two soldiers raising a red poppy – a direct reference to one of the most iconic images of war: the Joe Rosenthal photograph of US soldiers raising the flag on the island of Iwo Jima during the Second World War.
A spokesperson from The Royal British Legion, said: “We are delighted that Nic has chosen The Royal British Legion to receive a share of the income from his fantastic project.
“It is particularly poignant in this, the centenary year of the beginning of World War I, that he has chosen the poppy, the national symbol of remembrance, as the centrepiece of his work. The Royal British Legion was founded in the aftermath of The Great War and has, since 1921, provided support for the Armed Forces Community. Nic’s amazing gesture will help us to continue our work with serving personnel, veterans and Armed Forces families who are in need of help.”
Nic, who lives in Alresford, Hampshire, said he was inspired to create the original piece, the idea for which was conceived in 2012, after meeting a 96-year-old war veteran who had flown a glider into Arnhem in the Second World War, just weeks after the D-Day landings.
“He flew a glider with 20 men in it, into the town to take a bridge that was behind enemy lines,” recalls Nic.
“This bridge was thought to be defended by a small group of Germans, but they were so wrong. It was a total massacre with over 2,000 men dying in a week. He was a young man at the time and his story was a truly moving one.
“But what really touched me was the fact that he had talked to his father about the First World War and his father’s experiences. I suddenly had a direct link to the war that started the era of modern warfare.
“I was struck by the fact that what we all think of the first war is as distant history, a black and white image based view. This meeting made it all so real, and so relevant. All those that fought and died were just like you and me – they were normal people in a terrible situation but doing incredible things.
“In my own small way, I want this piece to remind us that all those who have given their lives in conflicts from The First World War until the present day will be ‘Never Forgotten’.”
When he completed the original ‘Never Forgotten’ piece, he shared a photograph of it on Facebook over the Remembrance Sunday weekend and it received more than 28,000 shares and hundreds of comments from all over the world. It was later sold at a charity auction for veterans for £7,500.
He now wants to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War on August 4 by releasing the limited edition versions of the sculpture.
Ian Weatherby-Blythe, Managing Director of Castle Galleries described Joly’s sculpture as a moving tribute to those who have served their country in the armed forces.
“When Nic told us what he wanted to do with ‘Never Forgotten’, we thought it was fantastic gesture and a superb way to raise a significant amount of money for The Royal British Legion,” he said.
“It is an incredibly emotive piece, so it comes as no surprise that we have already had a lot of interest about the artwork. It would be a huge boost to the charity who are doing excellent work in helping veterans if we could sell every piece.”
For more information visit www.castlegalleries.com/neverforgotten
For more information about the British Legion visit www.britishlegion.org.uk