Jim Carter is perhaps best known to today‘s audiences for his portrayal of Mr Carson, the butler, in ITV’s hit drama Downton Abbey, for which he has received 4 nominations as Best Supporting Actor at the Emmy Awards. Jim has also worked extensively in film and television – A Private Function, Brassed Off, Shakespeare in Love, The Singing Detective and Cranford being amongst his personal favourites.
“Last summer I was part of a very moving recital in Exeter Cathedral with Show of Hands to commemorate the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Running in tandem to the recital was one of the most extraordinary artworks I have ever witnessed. It was called ‘Shrouds of the Somme’. It was an acutely moving depiction of loss and remembrance.
Artist Rob Heard had created 19,240 individually shrouded figures, each about 12 inches tall and laid them out in symmetrical lines that seemed to stretch forever in an Exeter park. Alongside this memorial was a tent with lists of names of those 19,240 figures – all those who had lost their lived on the FIRST DAY of the Battle of the Somme.
When The Last Post was played over those figures, over those lists , over those lost lives it was one of the most moving depictions of loss and the folly of war that one could have imagined.
And now Rob Heard is working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week to complete this act of remembrance. To mark the centenary of Armistice Day in 2018 he is hand stitching 72,396 individually shrouded figures which will be laid out in perfect rows to represent the British and South African soldiers killed at the Battle of the Somme who have no known grave.
Each figure represents a named soldier. Each figure is unique.
The scale of Rob’s task is unimaginable but then so is the scale of the loss of life 100 years ago.
This artwork is stunning because represents grief in such a graphic manner and it gives those lost lives a name and a place in our memories forever.
I support this project and would urge others to support it too in the hope that devastation like this will never happen again.
We will remember them.”
This is a video of Jim Carter talking about Shrouds of the Somme, filmed at a Show of Hands concert at the Royal Albert Hall: