Great War MK is a collaborative project led by the Arts & Heritage Alliance Milton Keynes (AHA-MK). It explores the impact of the First World War on the communities of Milton Keynes – an area now covering six towns, 41 villages and 1/4 million people – through research, commemorative events, participatory learning activity and community workshops.
This Heritage Lottery funded project enables partners from the AHA-MK membership collectively to commemorate not only the stories from 100 years ago but also their legacy for modern Milton Keynes. Our aim is to inspire active participation amongst both native and new communities in Milton Keynes – in interviews, workshops and creative activities to produce informative and engaging new works. Great War MK will generate film screenings, music, dance, performances, archive material, exhibitions and installations, all of which will give fresh insights into the turmoil – and creativity – of those times.
Festive Road – Milton Keynes-based carnival company Festive Road are building full
size WW1 tank that will form the backdrop to their new performance informed by the tensions and challenges of frontline fighting. This outdoor artwork will be presented at night in various locations around Milton Keynes.
The Banner Project – Working with a talented textiles artist, Vinny Stapley, Westbury Arts Centre aims to create over 500 banners informed by the stories and memories of WW1. These beautiful commemorative banners will then be used to create a large-scale dance performance. Working with renowned choreographers Helen Parlor, Effie McGuire-Ward and Chris Bradley, a team of over 100 dancers will take part in this act of remembrance.
Cowper & Newton Museum – Working with Olney RFC the Cowper & Newton Museum will stage a commemorative Rugby match in January 2015 – in memory of local hero Edgar Mobbs. The Museum is also developing a Songs and Poetry Evening and an energetic Old Time Music Hall, breathing life into 100 year old music and verse, as well as presenting a new animation inspired by life in the trenches.
Frontline – MK Gallery is working with four local schools to explore the concept of conflict and how artists have represented war and wartime in their work. Groups of students will be visiting the Imperial War Museum and working with artists to develop their own artworks – culminating in an exhibition at MK Gallery project space in June 2015.
Living Archive – Working with a group of talented young people, professional musician Steven McDaniels will be supporting the development of new songs and music inspired by the WW1 stories held by Living Archive. These new songs will be performed at an event in May 2015. In addition, Living Archive will be developing digital stories bringing new life to re-mastered Living Archive Band recordings.
Independent Cinema MK – Local independent cinema company ICMK is exploring the ideas of propaganda and truth in their work creating stop-time animations with school children. These animations will form part of several ‘WW1 style’ screening events to take place around Milton Keynes, alongside other WW1 relevant film and footage.
Serving King and Country – Deanshanger Village Heritage Society have undertaken a research project to uncover information about the village in the WW1 period. Research will uncover life on the home front, those that served, those in reserved occupations – working on the land and at the famous E & H Roberts Iron Foundry. This project will result in exhibitions, creative workshops with school children, walks and archive material.
MK Heritage Association – Through support from MKHA, these local history projects also form part of Great War MK. These include:
- Simpson History Group’s research project to better understand the lives of the men represented on their war memorial, work to restore the local memorials and production of a booklet to commemorate their sacrifice.
- Bucks Constabulary Museum’s WW1 exhibition
- North Crawley Historical Society’s research project to track and commemorate all those who fought and died from their village, producing an exhibition and booklet.