Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Scapa beach part of Danny Boyle's Armistice Day commission

Scapa beach part of Danny Boyle's Armistice Day commission
15 October 2018

On 11 November 2018, the public is invited to gather on Scapa beach for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War.

Millions of people served in the First World War and many left by sea. National Theatre of Scotland leads events at six beaches across Scotland including St Ninian’s Isle beach, Scapa beach, St Andrews’ West Sands, Ayr Beach, Burghead Bay beach (exact location to be confirmed) and Cula Bay beach on the isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides.

Each event centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War with a connection to the local community. The portrait will be designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye and will be washed away as the tide comes in. In addition, the public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict.  Please note the scale of the sand art is weather-dependant.

Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Danny Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on Scapa beach and beaches across the UK and Republic of Ireland on 11 November. Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.

Local communities are encouraged to take part in a workshop ahead of the event: Tuesday 30 October from 19:00 until 20.30 at Kirkwall Town Hall.

During the workshop led by a representative from the local community, public will learn details on how they can become a part of the single biggest event in the UK and Republic of Ireland on Armistice Day.  There will be an opportunity to listen to and share stories of local heroes who fell or returned; worked the land or tended to the sick during the great war as well as exploring war-time poetry. Those interested in attending the workshop in Kirkwall Town Hall are required to register via this link.

The public is also invited to explore an online gallery of portraits of some of the men and women who served in the First World War, and select someone to say a personal goodbye to either via social media or as they gather in person on beaches on 11 November. The images are drawn from the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ which aims to tell 8 million stories of those who served from Britain and the Commonwealth. Visitors to the website can also add portraits of members of their family or community who contributed to the First World War.

Jackie Wylie, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre of Scotland, said: “The First World War had a devastating impact on Scotland, with tens of thousands of young lives lost and many more forever altered.

"Our nation has an enduring and emotive connection to the sea and our beautiful coastline has seen many come and go throughout history.

"Pages of the Sea will create an artistic tribute, both personal and communal, through art, words, pictures and stories, acknowledging all those who left our shores during WW1.

"As a theatre without walls, the National Theatre of Scotland welcomes this poignant opportunity to help bring communities together in this fitting act of remembrance. We would like to thank our partners, Orkney Islands Council, for their invaluable support of this special project.”

Harvey Johnston, Orkney Islands Council’s Convener said: “Orkney’s inclusion in this fantastic project is a reflection of the key role that our waters played in the war effort. Scapa Beach is the perfect backdrop for Pages of the Sea both in terms of the beautiful setting and its views across the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow.”

The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Swansea City Council and Sunderland Culture. It's supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.

The project is the latest collaboration between the National Theatre of Scotland and 14-18 NOW. It follows the success of previous nationwide participatory projects 'We’re here because we’re here' with artist Jeremy Deller in 2016 marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and 'PROCESSIONS' earlier this year, which in Scotland saw thousands of women take to the streets of Edinburgh in a colourful march to celebrate the centenary of votes for women. 14-18 NOW also collaborated on the powerful The 306 trilogy, the final part of which, The 306: Dusk, premieres in Perth later this month.

The project in brief:

  • Scapa beach in Orkney is one of the 30 beaches in the UK and the Republic of Ireland chosen to be part of Danny Boyle’s Armistice Day commission for 14-18 NOW and the National Theatre of Scotland, Pages of the Sea.
  • Pages of the Sea is a project inviting public to gather on the UK and Republic of Ireland beaches for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance of those who died during the First World War.
  • The commission centres around the drawing of a large-scale portrait in the sand of a WW1 casualty with a connection to the local community.
  • Local communities are encouraged to take part in workshops ahead of the event, on Tuesday 30 October at 19:00 in Kirkwall Town Hall.
  • The public is invited to explore an online gallery of WW1 casualties and choose someone to say a personal goodbye to on the 11th in person and on social media. They are also invited to add an image of their lost loved one to the online portal.
  • National Theatre of Scotland is leading 11November events across 6 beaches in Scotland as part of Pages of the Sea.
  • Orkney Islands Council is a partner of Pages of the Sea commission on Scapa beach.
  • National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council announces Scapa beach as one of the 6 locations in Scotland taking part in Danny Boyle’s Armistice Day commission for 14-18 NOW which marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.
  • To follow the project, visit the Pages of the Sea website or follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PagesoftheSea

More about Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is a stage and film director, screenwriter and producer from Radcliffe, Manchester. Danny’s Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games wowed critics and audiences across the world. In 2009 Danny won eight Academy® Awards including Best Director and Best Picture for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

Additionally, Danny has directed the feature films SHALLOW GRAVE and TRAINSPOTTING, A LIFE LESS ORDINARY, THE BEACH, 28 DAYS LATER, MILLIONS, SUNSHINE, 127 HOURS, STEVE JOBS, TRANCE and TRAINSPOTTING T2. He has also directed highly acclaimed work in theatre and television, including 2011’s FRANKENSTEIN at the Royal National Theatre and, most recently, the FX series TRUST in 2018.

Danny is currently editing his most recent film, UNTITLED JACK AND ELLIE PROJECT, featuring the music of the Beatles, written by Richard Curtis and starting Himesh Patel and Lily James.

More about The National Theatre of Scotland

The National Theatre of Scotland is dedicated to playing the great stages, arts centres, village halls, schools and site-specific locations of Scotland, the UK and internationally. As well as creating ground-breaking productions and working with the most talented theatre-makers, the National Theatre of Scotland produces significant community engagement projects, innovates digitally and works constantly to develop new talent. Central to this is finding pioneering ways to reach current and new audiences and to encourage people’s full participation in the Company’s work. With no performance building of its own, the Company works with existing and new venues and companies to create and tour theatre of the highest quality.  Founded in 2006, the Company, in its short life, has become a globally significant theatrical player, with an extensive repertoire of award-winning work.  The National Theatre of Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government.  https://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/

More about 14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations. It commissions new work by leading contemporary artists across all art forms; the programme has included over 200 artists from 35 countries, taking place in 160 locations across the UK. Over 30 million people have experienced a project so far, including 7.5 million children and young people. 16.7 million people took part in LIGHTS OUT in 2014, and 63% of the population were aware of Jeremy Deller’s, ‘We’re here because we’re here’. The UK tour of the poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper has been seen by over 4 million people to date. 14-18 NOW has won many awards for its work, including the National Lottery Heritage Award, 2017.  2018 is the final season, marking 100 years since the end of the First World War. 14-18 NOW is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, by the DCMS with additional funding from The Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Clore Duffield Foundation, NatWest and support from individuals.