On 11 November, coinciding with Remembrance Day, the English film-maker Danny Boyle invited communities to join him in marking 100 years since Armistice and the end of the first World War. Across the UK and Ireland, communities gathered on 32 beaches to say a collective thank you and goodbye to the millions who left their shores to serve in the war, and especially to those who never returned. Boyle’s personal homage to the first World War victims has received the ADCE Creative Distinction Award 2019, a special honor that recognises yearly the most inspirational creative ideas with an outstanding societal impact.
Part of ‘14-18 NOW’, a series of commemorative art commissions to mark the centenary of the First World War, the piece invited communities to gather on the beaches and collectively draw huge size portraits of people who lost their lives during the conflict. Designed by sand artists Sand in Your Eye, these portraits became only graspable from the sky, and while they were slowly erased by the sea coming in, participants collectively read aloud the sonnet “The Wound in Time” by the poet Carol Ann Duffy.
The portraits chosen represented a range of interesting stories of ordinary people who gave their lives to the war effort covering a range of ranks and regiments, from doctors to munition workers, privates to lieutenants to majors. Conveying the message by land, sea and air, ‘Pages of the Sea’ created a moment of national reflection that engaged with local communities around the UK and Ireland while also creating international awareness.
Danny Boyle has directed award-winning films like Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Steve Jobs and the soon to be released YESTERDAY. On his particular choice of setting, he said he had chosen beaches because they were “dramatic, unruly, democratic” places where “nobody rules but the tide”, but also places of hope. Thousands of people took part in community projects in the preceding weeks, discovering their local history, and each beach personalised their own event.
News of this nationwide gesture of remembrance travelled around the world, demonstrating how the UK paid tribute to the fallen one hundred years after Armistice Day. "We didn't want to feature heroes but ordinary people, representing all genders and ages and with a connection to the beaches chosen" explained yesterday Boyle at the D&AD Festival where he picked up the award. "Art has to be at the centre of every public commemoration", considers Boyle. "We wanted people to come and to be there at the beach, but we also wanted the project to be open for people who could not come through the website", he added.
The ADCE Creative Distinction award exists outside of the traditional ADCE Awards program, and it focuses on creativity that has a profound social and cultural purpose. It is decided upon by the ADCE board, comprised of representatives from each of the 22 member clubs from across Europe. Previous winners include 4Creative’s ‘Meet the Superhumans’ campaign, Jean Jullien’s ‘Peace for Paris’ design and Hasan & Partner’s ‘Teen Maternity Clothing’ campaign.