An exhibition of art, photography, poetry and stories recording the experiences of the men and women of Craven who lived through the First World War 100 years ago has opened at The Folly, Settle.
Families across Craven have come together in local libraries to share their ancestors’ experiences, often using objects that have been passed down, and these tales have inspired poet Ian Duhig, photographer Rob Freeman and artist Philippa Troutman to create a stunning multi-media presentation entitled Anthology of Silence.
The exhibition is the culmination of a five-year project by the Craven and the First World War Project who were awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to explore the impact of war in the Craven District a century ago.
Bentham-based Pioneer Projects have also contributed to creating the exhibition.
Photographer Rob Freeman, who has also led the Craven and the First World War project over the last 5 years as Project Officer explained: “This exhibition has provided an opportunity for local people to share with us their ancestors’ stories of the First World War, and also to be involved in discussions with other local families about the impact that the war had on the people and places of Craven.
“The Craven in the First World War Project has revolutionised the way we view the Home Front in Craven during the conflict one hundred years ago. This exhibition at The Folly aims to build on that achievement.”
The stories represented are hugely diverse. One involves John Nelson of Settle who became Battalion Shoemaker to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
John was the grandfather of Dan Nelson who keeps alive the family tradition of shoe-making at the family shop in Duke Street, Settle.
Another story concerns William Wilkinson of Bentham whose time as a POW near Berlin inspired his own great-grandson to become a First World War historian.
A tragic account involves Edwin Clapham of Bentham, champion sportsman, killed by a German machine gun bullet aged only 20, just two weeks before the war ended.
All these tales have been reinterpreted in verse, paintings or photographs.
One of Rob Freeman’s truly haunting photographic images recreates the scene a century ago when the mother of Edward Carr Dawson, reported missing in the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917, would walk up the hillside behind Bleak Bank Farm, Clapham, every Thursday to watch the train come in.
Her hope was that she would see her son walking across the fields towards home.
In the modern image John Dawson, his brother Stephen and nephew Matthew stand on the same spot in tribute to their great-uncle Edward Carr Dawson and his grieving mother.
Reflecting on the exhibition, award-winning poet Ian Duhig said: “I hope we have woven the cultural tapestry of this fascinating area a little more closely and given some indication of the riches of this area’s history.”
The exhibition can be viewed at The Folly, Settle, BD24 9EY until July 14.