The sculpture depicts the moment during WWI when a young woman opens a telegram informing her that her husband has been killed in action and represents those people that have to suffer grief due to conflict.
WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU YOUR HUSBAND HAS BEEN KILLED IN ACTION
She is in her late twenties at the moment but I will visit her again twice to make her age, retaining the same expression. Once in September to around 55 years, and then again in November to her late eighties to coincide with Remembrance Day. This is to show that although we cope with grief it stays with us throughout our lives:
‘Loss is eternal.’
She is made from 10 tonnes of sand that was moved with wheel barrows up steps and through halls and then compacted by hand over a day. I predicted that she would take only three days to sculpt but in the end she took four very long days. This was on account of her very complex expression. It is very challenging to make someone look like she is about to cry, small movements of sand represent the conflicting movements of muscles and flesh that exemplify grief.
When sculpting a person I know when I am getting close to the expression because I begin to respond to it emotionally as I would with an actual person. It is only natural when someone laughs to laugh with them, and when someone cries with grief to feel empathy and be close to tears yourself. When the young woman that I was sculpting finally began to cry I had an impulse to cry myself.
Sand sculpture is an unusual medium as it allows you to potentially alter a sculpture. Changing sculptures is something I have done before at Glastonbury Festival working for Zara Gaze. She pioneered this idea of a metamorphic sculpture that changes each day at the festival. When I thought of the woman grieving it seemed only natural that she would always grieve, people learn to cope but it stays with us throughout our lives. Thus was born the idea that I would revisit her on two occasions to let her live and grow old.
The sculpture is located in Hebden Bridge Town Hall courtyard that is open to the public and has a nice café by the river. It is part of an exhibition commissioned by Hebden Royd Town Council and Bankfield Museum in Halifax. It is also supported by the amazing archive of Pennine Horizons and the whole process has been filmed by Paul Burrows. She will be there until December or beyond and will age in September and just before Rememberence Day in November. It was televised on BBC Look North and has been in regional press.
Dates of Aging
“Loss is Eternal is part of Sand In Your Eye’s ‘We Are Human’ series. This is the idea that although different we are essentially the same and that everyone has the right to happiness. The woman is in British contemporary dress and is modelled on a Hannah Greenwood from Hebden Bridge but she could just as easily be German or a woman from a modern day conflict. The feeling of grief is a fundamental human emotion that we all share. We are human.