Fields of mud, seeds of hope - remembering the end of WW1

Earth from Passchendaele is to form part of an innovative artwork to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War which goes on display at Ripon Cathedral from October 3.

The large-scale artwork, ‘Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope’, is being created using wet soil from one of the largest British military camps of the time, based in Ripon, mixed with earth from Passchendaele. Gradually as the soil dries out, cracks will begin to appear revealing five battle weary soldiers returning from the front and deep within the piece, millions of poppy seeds lay dormant, representing hope and the resilience of life.

Cathedrals and churches across the diocese are building up preparations to mark the Armistice centenary, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the ‘war to end all wars’, as it was optimistically known at the time. Halifax Minster has had demonstrations and exhibitions of sewing on the front line, Bradford Cathedral has restored its WW1 bells, and there are many more events over the next two months.

‘Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope’ at Ripon Cathedral is a nine metre long installation and is being installed in the north aisle of the Cathedral. As the mud dries it changes colour, gradually cracks and over a period.

Evensong at 6pm on Wednesday October 3 sees the start of the cathedral’s commemorative programme marking the end of the First World War. The installation will then run until November 14.

When the piece is decommissioned, segments of the soil will be made available for people to plant in gardens or to incorporate into other remembrance artworks so that the legacy of the work can continue.

The installation has been created by Ripon artists, Dan Metcalfe, Jeanne Mundy and Joe Priestley with support from local councillors and businesses.

Mr Metcalfe (pictured)  said: “We have used mud,  something very familiar to so many World War 1 soldiers and deeply symbolic of struggle and sacrifice, and sought to form it into an artwork that looks to the future and has hope at its core.”

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