Beaconsfield High School

Beaconsfield High School

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Art Dedication Ceremony for Remembrance Day

In a moving assembly, joined by Marine Major John Hayward, Beaconsfield High School dedicated a special conceptual painting made by teachers and pupils for Remembrance Day. 

Inspired by battlefields trips, Art Teacher, Pam Gale began a project to honour a single soldier and in doing that she allowed all of the students of Beaconsfield High School to honour all military personnel; present and past.  

The subject of the painting, Jack Simmons, was an ordinary man who joined up under the PALS scheme when young men were urged to join up to fight in the First World War in their friendship groups.  Working with the students, Mrs Gale wanted to find a way of capturing an essence that symbolised the enormous loss of life with a personal touch in focusing on a single person to remember.  It is even more poignant that this dedication ceremony took place almost 100  years to the day that Jack lost his life. 

Artwork DedicationThe piece of art is textured and created with layers of meaning.  The mustard yellow background reflects the desolation of the killing fields with the gas and fragments of poetry seen amongst the paint.   The lack of people in the landscape show the desolation of war. Next came the poppies, printed in darker and lighter hues to represent memory – the darker, the more real and softer less distinct poppies to represent the stories of those unknown.  Remnants of propaganda in the form of posters that were very high profile are also included.  The brightest poppies document how the poppy became the symbol of national support and remembrance

Two A level art students created the head of Jack that dominates the image and they tried to create a look of stoic acceptance in the features. The ethereal nature of the painting represents the spirit of the lost. The badge of the 16th Warwickshire regiment is created as well in memory of other colleagues who fell.  

And finally a photo of Jack with the location of where he is buried has been degraded to reflect the body after death which is surrounded by the vibrant poppies.  These represent the memories of the students and staff who visited Jack’s grave and the integrity and sincerity of the work and the time spent on it. 

Marine Major John Hayward who has completed many tours of action including Afghanistan, The Falklands and Iraq spoke to those assembled and said that he felt ‘humbled by the narrative behind the piece of art’.  He said that ‘this art will be a lasting memory of what you have done.’

He delivered an inspirational talk  where he explained that nowadays we were all twice as likely to know someone who work in a supermarket than the armed forces and so it was vital that we remember why people past and present die for us.  Presently there are UK soldiers involved in fighting to counter oppression and intolerance; protecting those that can't protect themselves in 30 globally stabilisation of developing and deteriorating nations .  He talked about the values that drive people to give up their lives for their country and said that in the past these had not been written down.  However, many Royal Marines carry their values with them all of the time; excellence, integrity, self-discipline and respect.   It was an opportunity for the students to see a strong alignment with the values underpinning their school.    

Assistant Headteacher, Tina Hill, closed the ceremony with a thanks, for helping the students of the present and the future to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.