The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne to support a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme at Lichfield Cathedral. Taking place from August 4 to 6, Before Action sees a combination of projections, art installations and soundscapes to transform the inside of the historic building into a symbol of the journey from home to the battlefield. As part of the event, the public is being asked to record themselves reading an excerpt from a war poem and post it on social media using the #beforeaction hashtag. Eddie Redmayne and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are among those who have already posted videos, which can be viewed on the cathedral’s Facebook page.
Peter Walker, artist in residence at Lichfield Cathedral, said: “It has been a deeply moving experience to work with the cathedral on this major new arts and commemoration event.
“Art has the power to connect with people on a deep and spiritual level and I very much hope that all those who visit and participate in this experience will feel a direct connection to their own ancestors and all those who lost their lives or were impacted by the Great War.”
The event will feature a recreation of an Edwardian sitting room and a cinema showing a specially commissioned film and recordings of some of the war poems.
The Dean of Lichfield, The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, added: “The Battle of the Somme saw an immense loss of life on both sides and is one of the great tragedies of the First World War.
“This commemoration event is a fitting way for all our visitor to reflect upon conflict, remembrance and reconciliation, in a world that continues to be troubled by uncertainties and fears.
“Visitors can come to our cathedral and through prayer and commemoration look towards a more hopeful future.”
Before Action starts at 7pm each night with the projections running every 30 minutes. The last admission is at 11pm. Entry is free.