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Shetland Arts presents We’re here because we’re here, an exhibition at Bonhoga Gallery telling the story of the contemporary memorial presented by 14-18 NOW and the National Theatre of Great Britain, in association with the National Theatre of Scotland.

On 1 July 2016, thousands of volunteers took part in a modern memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. We’re here because we’re here was a UK-wide event commissioned by 14-18 NOW, conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre.

Produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the National Theatre, in collaboration with 26 organisations across the UK, the event involved approximately 1400 participants dressed in First World War uniform, who appeared unexpectedly in a variety of locations between 7am and 7pm on the day.

Working with National Theatre of Scotland, Shetland was one of only two locations in Scotland to take part in the project. The young men were a reminder of the 19,240 men who were killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed on that day.

From Saturday 20 January to Sunday 18 March, Bonhoga Gallery will exhibit photographs and film documenting the impact of this moving public artwork. The exhibition opening will take place on Friday 19 January at the slightly earlier than usual time of 5.30-7pm. Refreshments will be provided and everyone is welcome. In the lower gallery will be a range of limited edition prints from Shetland born artist Ellie Mulhern. A classically trained singer turned painter, her current work captures the beauty and expanse of the Shetland night sky.

To tie in with We’re here because we’re here, Mareel will screen four films set during the First World War – Paths of Glory, Testament of Youth, War Horse and the new adaptation of Journey’s End – between 21 January and 8 March. The first screening – Paths of Glory on Sunday 21 January at 2.00pm – will be introduced by history teacher and WWI scholar Jon Sandison. Screening dates and more information here.

Audiences will also be able to watch the recent Shetland Youth Theatre production ‘In the Still of the Night Have We Wept’ online on the Shetland Arts website from Friday 19 January. A powerful and moving performance based on the poetry of WWI, the piece was entirely devised and shaped by the young participants, who learned that the emotions expressed in verse 100 years ago are still as relevant and fresh today. The production, directed by John Haswell, was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and was filmed in the Garrison Theatre by local filmmaker JJ Jamieson. More information here.


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