Arts project marks First World War centenary

Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red project performed at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre
Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red project performed at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre

Words, music and dance combined in a creative project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby.

Pupils from schools in Horncastle, Louth and Mablethorpe, RAF Coningsby Military Wives Choir and the Big Sing Louth community choir worked with regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva and dancers from the Tom Dale Company as part of the Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red project - an interpretation of the impact of war on the battlefield and soldiers’ families,

Participants came together to perform their work last Thursday on a specially constructed stage in an aircraft hangar at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Surrounded by Lincolnshire’s very own Lancaster Bomber, Just Jane, and other military vehicles, search lights illuminated the hangar as the audience took their seats with special lighting evoking the drama of the music and dance pieces.

As part of the performance Horncastle Choral Group member, Maureen Traves, read a poem that she has written entitled Brothers in Arms dedicated to her great uncle 2nd Lt Thomas Stanfield who was killed in action in 1917 aged 26.

She said: “This was a wonderful and memorable experience and I feel privileged to have been involved. The Viva team were brilliant and I am delighted that the young people in particular were given this opportunity gain experience in the arts. Projects like this are vital to develop their full potential as happy and fulfilled people.”

Keith Lines, a teacher at Monks Dyke Tennyson College, Louth added: “From the outset our students have been enthused by each of the workshop leaders; their energy has been infectious. The topic has engaged them and the first workshop, event held at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, served to deepen their understanding of the First World War. The boys were particularly moved when they heard about the age of some soldiers. Both the dance and music content has challenged the students. They have already asked when they can do something like this again.”

Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red was created and led by Sinfonia Viva working in partnership with East Lindsey District Council to bring the project to the area as part of a regional tour. The final part of the project is currently underway in Scunthorpe and will culminate in a performance at Baths Hall on Thursday, November 20.

East Lindsey District Council’s portfolio holder for culture Coun Adam Grist said: “The project has been a fantastic opportunity for local people, including children, to take part in a professional performance to the public. The performance itself was incredibly emotional and thought-provoking and I am extremely proud that we have been part of such a high quality project to commemorate this very important anniversary.”

Viva education manager Marianne Barraclough added: “The aircraft hangar with the stage surrounded by the iconic Lancaster Bomber and military vehicles was the perfect backdrop to the theme of the performance. The Viva musicians and Tom Dale Company dancers were extremely impressed with the hard work and dedication of everyone involved and the feedback from the choir members and school pupils has been extremely positive.”

Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red has been supported by Arts Council England with a grant from its Strategic Touring Fund, Orchestras Live and East Lindsey District Council. Further funding was secured from the Lincolnshire Armed Forces Community Covenant, administered by Lincolnshire County Council.