Following a national call for submissions, artist studio musson+retallick were selected to produce the artwork. Consisting of 30 acrylic panels laser etched with the faces of the soldiers, 321 plaster medals by local schoolchildren and LED lighting, rows of illuminated portraits line the flower beds along the front of the Town Hall gardens either side of the War Memorial. Further school’s medals flank the panels and run up the sides by the War Memorial.
Entitled ‘Light Lines’ (life-lines), the artwork is about connecting past and present by taking the idea of the line as both a timeline and symbol of a hope - the ray of light being the generational legacy of those who gave up their lives. The small cast objects from the school’s workshops freeze a sentimental possession in time, symbolising our need for the familiar, the sentimental and the precious connections between family and friends. The story of war becomes humanised and the installation respectfully revives historic stories while linking them to youth people of the 21st century.
“We have enjoyed having the opportunity to work on a project with such a profound meaning and such close connections to people’s emotions. Our work is about telling stories which combine the past and the present and develop a stronger sense of community. Working with the support of Barnsley Museum has allowed us to link moments in history to the memories of some and to the imagination others. By involving local children in creating elements of this artwork we have gained fresh and original insights which make the sculpture very individual and personal.
For us as artists, the test of any artwork is in the way people talk about it and we are delighted to have had so many positive conversations with local people who appreciate the direct yet gentle way in which this artwork communicates the story of the Barnsley Pals. We are grateful to the museum and to the council for enabling this project to be realised.” - Neil Musson and Jono Retallick, July 2016
musson+retallick is a collaboration between artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick who trained at the Royal College of Art and Winchester School of Art respectively. The duo share a desire to see artistic stories woven into architecture and public spaces to enhance a sense of community and belonging. Their innovative installations often incorporate an interactive use of light, sound or movement to change perception of space. Journeys through time, emotion and landscape are central themes behind the artworks and often begin with historical research to fully understand a site. Their work can be seen at mussonretallick.com
In addition to their portfolio of built projects, musson+retallick work with the Sorrell Foundation charity to ensure that young people have the opportunity to experience art above and beyond schools curriculum. They are also international speakers, judges for international lighting competitions (Darc Awards) and deliver CPD training and concept development to architectural practices such as Jestico and Whiles and Foster and Partners.