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NUA students recreate Somme battlefield in WW1 centenary commemoration

Two students at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) have designed, built and painted a two-thirds scale profile of a Mark V tank and a replica 20 foot section of a Somme battlefield trench for an exhibition at Holkham Hall in Norfolk commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1. The exhibition will run all summer and is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors.

A 2/3 scale Mark V tank guards the entrance to Holkham Hall

A 2/3 scale Mark V tank guards the entrance to Holkham Hall

MA Fine Art student Andrew Rhodes and BA Illustration student Jason Billman collaborated on the exhibit, with the brief to depict a scene of trench life. After conducting extensive research into images from the war the students spent five days living at Holkham Hall, using the hall’s historic kitchens as a studio to paint the original images.

Andrew Rhodes (left), MA Fine Art student and Jason Billman, BA Illustration student, both studying at Norwich University of the Arts, with their Somme battlefield scene

Andrew Rhodes (left), MA Fine Art student and Jason Billman, BA Illustration student, both studying at Norwich University of the Arts, with their Somme battlefield scene

The final work presents a trench scene with two soldiers ready to go over the top and another, clearly anxious, smoking a last cigarette. Outside the trench is an emotive depiction of the barren and desolate Somme landscape dotted with burned out stumps of trees and bushes.

The project was commissioned via the University’s commercial department ideasfactory@NUA, which undertakes a diverse range of projects each year involving students, from fine art commissions through to the creation of animations or commercial games design.

WW1 soldiers prepare to go over the top in the Somme trench scene

WW1 soldiers prepare to go over the top in the Somme trench scene

Sarah Steed, Business Director at NUA, says: “The project was hard work for the students, requiring five solid days of painting, but the results are impressive. They tell a story about the experience of WW1, but also about the quality clients can expect if they commission a creative project through the ideasfactory@NUA.” ‘Duty Calls: Holkham 1914 to 1918’ is open at Holkham Hall ,12pm – 4pm on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays until 31 October. Admission charges apply. For more information visit www.holkham.co.uk.

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