A sleeping Grandmother Giant travelled through space, between two clouds of the Milky Way, waking in the city of Liverpool to tell stories of a war that will never be forgotten…
Memories of August 1914
August 2014 marks the centenary of the start of World War I, commemorated in Liverpool by a cultural event of giant proportions. The conflict saw 5,000 Liverpool men sign up to serve King and country. They had answered a call from Lord Derby to form a Pals battalion, “a battalion in which friends from the same office will fight shoulder to shoulder for the honour of Britain and the credit of Liverpool.” These men were not regular soldiers and by the end of the war 2,800 Liverpool Pals had lost their lives. Huge casualties meant whole communities and workplaces were changed forever.
3 days, 3 giants, 1.5 million spectators
Thousands were gathered outside St George’s Hall on Friday 27 July – all waiting and watching in awe as a Giant Grandmother marionette stirred from her sleep. Over the next three days she would travel the city, pausing to read out stories of wartime soldiers. A loud bang and a cloud of sooty smoke announced each reading as a ‘cosmic safe’ – containing letters from Liverpool’s past, present and future – was opened.
In one poignant moment, a letter was read tearfully by an elderly man, written by his grandfather the night before he went ‘over the top’ and was killed. Writing to his mother, the young soldier said: “My own darling mother, I’m just on the eve of going into the greatest battle the world has ever known. I’m writing this and asking someone to post it (if I don’t return). I never realised how little I’ve done for you and in return how much you have done for me until I joined the army.”
Memories of August 1914 was an amazing spectacle of public art that people will be talking about for years to come. I used to live on Merseyside so have an affinity for the city. I feel proud for the people of Liverpool, and I’m thankful for the genius and generosity of Royal de Luxe for sharing their spectacular creations.
Social media, including the Giant Spectacular Facebook page, has been flooded with positive comments, one of my favourites being: “One of the very best experiences of my entire life – every minute was fantastic – even the waiting, the heat, the queues, BUT nothing could spoil the good nature of the crowds (and I mean EVERONE), the beautiful creations, the atmosphere of joy and surprise… It was all superb!!!”
See more pictures of the Liverpool Giants on itchyfeetphotography.com and watch highlights of their farewell in this short video produced by Liverpool Live TV: