I felt as if the souls and spirits of those who died all those years ago had been bought back to life in the church. List of names on a memorial are all very well, but it is the visual impact which is so important.
It makes us realise so many villages in England suffered the same extinction of ancestry, and yet how lucky we have been to reap their gallantry.
These silhouettes will vividly illustrate the sacrifice of one generation to its successors. In a similar vein Project Equinox will provide a platform whereby younger generations, principally university undergraduates, can learn from and recognise the contributions of successive generations of veterans. Lest any generation ever forgets.
It is one the finest pieces of public art I have ever seen. It’s extraordinarily affecting and such a beautiful way for people to access the range of profound emotions and principles that we must find new ways to remember.
“The poppies at the Tower of London captured the start of the national WWI commemoration – There But Not There will be the abiding concluding image.”
General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL
last November's wonderful and deeply moving installation arranged to commemorate the many Penshurst men and lads who left these shores for the Great War - and did not return save in our cherished memories, prayers and thanksgivings and sorrows. The profound response to this locally and nationally was an unexpected but very humbling wonder.
The Reverend Tom Holme, Rector of Penshurst Church
I find that as an ex-Serviceman I have to position myself, "on my terms", before embracing anything that re-visits thoughts that have been placed at the back of mind for many years and therefore reducing the potential of surprise, or in this case emotional surprise.
The church remained empty for an hour; I engaged name after name and sat by the side of and in-between a number of the men, pondering about the lives they had before the war and the circumstances that may have surrounded their death. I found myself wondering about their experiences and the horrors that young eyes should never see only to be met head-on by my own thoughts, maybe just maybe I had the right to sit and talk to them, to share common ground, to remember. I left in a somewhat sombre mood feeling better in myself having found peace as I hoped they had.
Such a memorial needs to reflect the truth of what was both taken and given. It also needs to allow people to mourn and commemorate but at the same time remain respectful and mindful that we, as humans deal with things differently. The exhibition accounts and allows for all.
An ex-serviceman. (Falklands)
I just have to tell you that we have all been quite overwhelmed.. What a gift you've given us all. And what a gift you have given these men, posthumously. To encourage remembrance, respect, empathy, warmth and gratitude towards men who mustn't be forgotten. Brave men, who gave their lives.
On our way home, neither of us could speak. We both sat with a soldier and conversed silently. A beautiful experience. Incredibly sad, but incredible at the same time.
Nothing prepared us for the moment of opening the church door, walking in and standing behind the figures in the pews. What a marvellously simple but effective idea the figures, their name blocks and Poppies are! With the light catching the edge of the silhouettes it is not difficult to imagine the commemorated soldiers in the church and in doing so their ‘presence’ can become almost tangible.
The decision to make the figures identical and devoid of individuality was inspired, echoing as it did (for me anyway) the Imperial/Commonwealth War Graves Commission decision to have all the grave markers identical and without any distinction regarding military rank or social standing.
What a poignant and moving installation. We visited as a family and thought it was quite beautiful as well as saddening. My youngest (age 6) went round the church with a photo of his Great Granddad (…. who was a quiet, proud war veteran).
It really is a beautiful and thoughtful piece.
It was very moving and I can see them [the 51 villagers who died in the War] appearing and disappearing, almost vanishing and very ghostly. It is brilliant. I only wish more people could see it.