Art and music in Islington

One of our major projects is nearly complete in Islington, London.  Soldiers joined many different regiments but our schools there have been focussing on the experiences of the local regiment – the Finsbury Rifles – which went to Gallipoli in July 1915.

Pupils from Richard Cloudesley school with the banners

Pupils from Richard Cloudesley school with the banners. Photo: Islington Borough Council

Islington is a very different place a hundred years on: today there is a large Turkish community there.  Working with Islington Museum, we took the opportunity to look at the Gallipoli Campaign from both sides, through commemorative art works and music meditations.

Musicians Jonathan Rees and Firat Derat worked with five local primary schools: Ashmount, Copehagen, Drayton Park, Newington Green and Tufnell Park. The musicians taught pupils songs about Gallipoli in both English and Turkish, exploring the experiences of the soldiers. Pupils also recorded selected extracts from British and Turkish primary sources about the campaign. They then experimented with voice and scale to create musical backdrops to these sources, meditating on the words and emotions of the men who wrote them. Pupils learnt about daily life at Gallipoli, from the soldiers’ struggles with lice, extreme weather and sickness, to the realities of trench warfare and coping with death on the front.

Canakkale Icinde 1a

Islington pupils learn the Turkish song Çanakkale İçinde. Photo: Islington Borough Council

The final video combines the songs, readings and musical meditations, alongside archival photographs of the Finsbury Rifles on the front line. It recognises the realities of the Gallipoli Campaign and commemorates the struggles of troops from all backgrounds who fought there.

Meanwhile Artist Sarah Pimenta worked with students from Richard Cloudesley and Samuel Rhodes secondary schools to create two screen-printed banners. They explored the Gallipoli Campaign through the photographs of Colonel Stanley Byrne of the Finsbury Rifles. His remarkable images documented the Rifles’ campaign, providing a visual record of the sites they visited, as well as the mundane realities of daily life on the front.  The banners show the Gallipoli peninsula, created by mark-making techniques. Students created stencils from archival photographs and screen printed these on to the peninsula.

We are delighted with the results of these projects and congratulate the pupils, teachers, musicians, artists and the museum staff for the exceptional results.