Two British artists created a stunning, if not temporary, display of 9,000 silhouettes on a D-Day Landings beach, affording a visual representation to mark international Peace Day.
The project, named, “The Fallen,” serves as a momentary memorial and tribute to those who lost their lives during Operation Neptune landing on June 6, 1944.
The idea was shared between Jamie Wardley, 33, and Andy Moss, 50. They hoped their art would remind people of the value of peace.
With a team of volunteers, the artists travelled to Arromanches beach, Normandy, to painstakingly create each of the silhouettes by hand. A stencil was laid on the sand and by raking the surface, a distinctive figure emerged.
For several hours the shapes remained on the beach, only to be erased by the tide as the waves swept over them.
“The Fallen is a sobering reminder of what happens when peace is not present,” Wardley said. “The idea is to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Second World War Normandy landings.”
“People understand that so many lives were lost that day but it’s incredibly difficult to picture that number,” Wardley continued. “You could see the horrific casualty of war when you stood on the cliff looking down at the beach.”
“Watching the tide come in and wash the bodies away was symbolic of all the lives lost in all wars, not just during the Normandy Landings,” he said.
The project attracted people from all around the world, veterans and families, including some who lost loved ones in recent wartime conflicts.
“We turned up to the beach with a team of 60 people but by the end we had over 500 people taking part. There were people from all over the world who had heard about the event and travelled all the way to France to take part,” Wardley said.
“There were others who happened to be walking by and wanted to get involved. It showed that people from all over totally understood the message behind it and I found it very overwhelming,” Wardley continued.
He added, “Some people told us that they had lost family in the Second World War and others said they had lost loved ones in Afghanistan and wanted to pay a tribute to them.”
“We finished all the stencils at about 7:30 p.m. and everyone gathered and waited for the tide to come in. The last silhouette washed away at about 10 p.m. and it was incredibly moving,” Wardely concluded.