FIELD MARSHAL DEATH and JACOBS LADDER
There is a difference in time of completion, (Jacobs Ladder – 2013 and Field Marshal Death – 2016) but the two are related. They are made of the same materials – steel, cast-iron and bronze. More important, each sculpture refers back to the period when I researched a section of the Northern end of the Somme battlefield, the cliffs along the Ancre Valley from Aveluy Wood to Beaumont Hamel. The research took place over several summer blocks, spread over the years 1968 to the mid nineteen seventies. The aim was observing, surveying and getting to know the ground by drawing and crude mapping as well as making written notes. Spending so much time in one place I could see where the nature of the tragedy lay, in the superior use of the defenders of both the ground and underground (the solid and largely shell-proof nature of the chalk)
Steel, Cast Iron & Bronze
Edition of 3
300 cm high
Jacob’s Ladder is not a biblical reference. When I made drawings and a cardboard model for the sculpture I did not know that there was a Jacobs trench on the Ypres Salient. (The trench was located between Hooge Crater and Wieltje a little way East of Bellewarde Ridge). The steel, cast-iron and bronze sculpture was started in 2012 and completed in early 2013, but it can be seen as unfinished business looking back over forty years to the Somme Series.
I was convinced that Jacob’s Ladder was mentioned by A.P.Herbert in his poem Beaucourt Revisited, but, on looking again, I realised that I was wrong, though Herbert wrote of an equally infamous trench in the Ancre valley, Kentish Caves. Jacobs Ladder was a step-trench ascending the steep slope. This made sections of the trench exposed to German snipers on the other side of the valley. Scrim hid those moving up the trench but provided no protection against random shots or shrapnel shells.
Steel, bronze, wood and
Complete Sculpture: Unique
Bronze Head: Edition of 6
230 cm high 80 cm wide
George Fullard talked frequently of ‘Poetry’ in relation to sculpture. He admired ambiguity and paradox. The joy of sculpture (like poetry) is that it can mean many things at the same time. Sources for sculpture are equally diverse.
I cannot remember which came first; the visit to the Historical Museum in Berlin or hearing Mussorgsky’s ‘Songs and Dances of Death’ on the BBC. The visit to Berlin inspired the Janus figure of George the V and his cousin Kaiser Bill – two heads with the same body. Janus is not large, about 35 centimetres in height, carved in boxwood and painted. It is a part of the ‘War Toys’ series. Field Marshal Death is much larger, made of bronze, cast iron and welded steel, the Marshal stands over two metres high.