On Wednesday 2nd November the ladies from Hookery were invited to a civic reception at the Museum at the Mill, Newtownabbey for the unveiling of two special pieces. We had been responsible for these:
So many of us in the Hookery group had, and still have, servicemen and women in our families and for that reason it was a great honour to create these commemorative pieces to those who gave their lives 100 yrs ago.
A few folks helped us along our way. Mark Thompson, Black Sheep Printing and Sheldon Galleries, Belfast gave each piece such a professional glow. Ursula, Samantha, Deirdre, Jackie, Wesley and Gordon also helped us along the way.
The Hookery ladies also deserve a huge thanks from me because when I originally mentioned the project to them they were immediately, and unquestionably, agreeable and also because of the amount of personal time they have dedicated to it.
It took a few long weeks from start to finish and here are photos of the works-in-progress.
We had additional help with poppy production from 3 ladies belonging to Women's Arts and Crafts, an affiliated member of Small Steps Community Development in Duncairn, North Belfast.
Quite a bit of thought went into each piece, and although we are not historians, we tried our best to make the pieces relevant, to represent as many aspects of the Somme, the local area and the men as possible. Each piece has similarities but also subtle differences.
· The words we have used surrounding the poppies were their words, of their time, reflecting both the horror of war and also how the normality of life went on at the same time, illustrated by ‘the guns are going now’, ‘shake a man’s nerves’ …... and then mention of ‘nice weather’ and ‘plum duff’
· We used quotations applicable to the particular area where the pieces are to be displayed. For example, we used quotations from the diaries of Tom McKinney from Sentry Hill for the piece to be displayed at Mossley Mill and quotations from speeches made by Lt. Col. H A Packenham who commanded the 11th (Service) Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers) for the piece which will be displayed at Antrim Civic Centre
· We used individual poppies in terms of colour, shape, size, and texture to represent the individuality of each soldier but put them together into a single poppy to represent the regiments and battalions in which they served
· There are 141 individual poppies in each piece to represent the 141 days of the battle
· A linen–type background to the pieces represents the industry in the local area which would have lost so many young men to the war
· And finally, the well-known quotation from the Kohima Epitaph, credited to the poet John Maxwell Edmonds, has been used to link the pieces - For Your Tomorrow / We Gave Our Today.
The Hookery ladies hope everyone enjoys looking at these pieces and hope that they will be meaningful to, and appreciated by, residents of the Borough and future visitors to our Civic Centres.