Visited by more than four million people to date, Fields of Battle is perhaps the most viewed exhibition of the centenary period. There is in fact no other exhibition of a similar nature focused exclusively on the First World War. In public parks and streets, the exhibition brings us the story of reconciliation across the lands of the warring nations. Once places of devastating violence, we now see landscapes of great beauty, testament to peace and remembrance. The exhibition brings to our streets history, and history’s effect.
The concept of the late broadcaster, historian and author, Professor Richard Holmes, it took photographer Mike St Maur Sheil eight years to complete photography for Fields of Battle.
Above: Following critical acclaim in Paris, Fields of Battle Lands of Peace 14 -18 was launched officially by HRH The Duke of Kent KG in St James's Park on August 4th 2014, to mark the outbreak of the First World War.
Above: There was a genuine atmosphere of excitement as guests filled the pavements along Rue des Médicis to view the exhibition.
Registered charity Fields of Battle 14-18 has developed in collaboration with Mike Sheil, a unique and engaging touring street gallery exhibition, based not on the horrors of war, but on how over time, nature has healed the battlefields, creating a link between the modern day and the personal dramas and stories these peaceful landscapes now hide.
Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace 14-18 does not seek to explain the history of the First World War, but rather seeks to introduce people to the subject by revealing some of the landscapes of battle and illustrating the stories of the people who experienced those battles.
It does so in a uniquely powerful manner, by bringing these events to people in their own communities via the medium of a touring photographic street gallery featuring the work of Michael St Maur Sheil
Above: The Messines ridge, south of Ypres, had been held by the Germans since 1914 but on the morning of June 7th 1917 the British exploded 19 mines packed with a total of 450 tons of High Explosive under the German lines. More information here
Above: Chemin des Dame, Aisne, The Somme. View from La Caverne du Dragon, southwards over French positions.
Above: Beaumont Hamel, The Somme.
100 years later, every detail of the battlefield of Beaumont Hamel, including trenches and
shell-holes is still visible, showing how naked and exposed the infantry would have felt.
Above: London Irish Rifles - The Loos Football, at Loos en Gohelle, France
Accompanying caption panels detail the historic significance of the main image together with thought-provoking learning points. Using archive photos, maps, poems and infographics, together with moving personal accounts of the Great War, each panel will provide a direct conduit between the contemporary image and the events that took place there 100 years ago.
Sited in open spaces such as civic squares, memorial sites and busy pedestrianised city centre areas, this free-to-the-public street gallery will stand alone in its ability to allow people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures to share in the remembrance of The First World War.
Above: One of Michael St Maur Sheil's most iconic images:
Beaumont Hamel - The Somme, where trenches and shell holes are still clearly visible after nearly a century. Click the image above for more information.