Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience: National WW1 project festival in Bristol

27 April 2019, 11.00 AM - 28 April 2019, 4.30 PM

'Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience is a national festival with events held around Bristol throughout April and May, including a festival weekend from 27 -28 April.

The project, led by the law School's Professor Lois Bibbings, marks the 100-year anniversary of conscientious objectors being released from prison and looks at hidden or lesser known stories of First World War, such as women’s peace activism, the treatment of war veterans, and the experiences of conscientious objectors.

Professor Lois Bibbings is one of the country’s leading experts on war resistance, conscientious objection to military service and the Shot at Dawn campaign, which saw the Government formally pardon over 300 soldiers who were shot at dawn by the British for cowardice or desertion during World War One.

This national festival presents a rich and complex picture of the First World War, by highlighting aspects which have been missed or barely touched upon by centenary activities to-date – including looking at internment, war resistance, the experiences of those in British Caribbean and India, mutinies, conscientious objection and miscarriages of justice.

“It also offers the opportunity to examine legacy and commemoration, to reflect on what has happened since in terms of the treatment of veterans and conscientious objectors, to focus on present day efforts at peacebuilding.” - Professor Bibbings

Exhibitions include:

  • 1 April to 3 May - ‘A Colour Chart for Killing’ in the Central Library; a series which explores the relationship between ‘first world’ domestic culture, epitomised by the aspirations of DIY home improvement, and the darker shadows of the United Kingdom’s counter terrorism measures, military economy and overseas wars.
  • 10 April to 7 May - ‘The Poppy Retake’ in M Shed; a documentary exhibition exploring how European powers brought colonies into World War I, took resources from these countries and took the war to ‘fronts’ outside Europe.
  • 25 April to 20 May - 'The Lost Files' in the crypt of St John The Baptist church; an installation by sculptor Al Johnson which looks at the experiences of conscientious objectors.
  • 25 April to 31 May - ‘The Art & Nature of Conscience’ in Bristol Cathedral focuses on texts and artwork by and about World War One conscientious objectors, encouraging the visitor to think about the meaning of conscience. The exhibition includes rare images from the autograph albums which some objectors kept as well as works by contemporary artists which reference or respond to the words and actions of World War One conscientious objectors.

The festival is overseen by the Everyday Lives in War project at the University of Hertfordshire and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as well as supported by University of Bristol funding. Bristol's Remembering the Real WW1 group has been a key part of organising the festival.

Jeremy Clarke, of Remembering the Real WW1, said: “This festival is an unrivalled opportunity to see and hear the results of years of research done across the country into 'hidden stories' of World War One and get a wider perspective on responses to the war, both at the time and since.

© Andy De Comyn / © Bo Lanyon

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