I have been yearning to see this exhibition since it opened in April. We had such a wonderful experience at the Imperial War Museum in London earlier this year so I had very high expectations. Despite some issues with my audio guide, I thought the exhibition was very powerful and emotive.
On first entering the exhibition space, you are literally confronted by a ceiling-to-floor projection screen showing a film of pre-war Britain. If you have the audio guide with you it really adds to the emotion. You are told these men on the screen lived normal lives, did normal things, before the outbreak of the war. From this room onwards, you follow their stories and delve right into life during the war.
The absolute best part of this exhibition is the end. Not because I was glad to leave, but because it held some really powerful objects. Its theme is how was the War remembered – by both the soldiers and public. For example, there is a statue of a soldier being aided by a nurse. This was sculptured by a soldier who was left disabled by the War. I really enjoy seeing how memorialization has taken place and what significance this has meant to an individual or community.
The gift shop was pretty excellent. The exhibition catalogue was well worth purchasing and I am left wondering how will I get it safely back to Sydney in my carry on luggage? That is a problem for future me.
If you are visiting this exhibition do not miss its partner exhibition held in the Body and Minds exhibition space. The layout is so beautiful tracing different narratives of war. One thing I must mention is the multimedia component. There is one section displaying a desolate landscape and when you move in front of it your body changes the image on the screen.
The objects and stories worked together to unveil the individuals behind the photographs you first encounter entering the space.
This was such a great exhibition and truly a moving way to commemorate the First World War.