OTHER RANKS – LEST WE FORGET - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The power of sound is the focal point in capturing the promises made, and the price paid by those serving under the British flag, in a new exhibition opening at Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson, on November 4.

Part of the museum’s Remembrance commemorations, Other Ranks is the work of renowned sound artist Amie Slavin.

By staging the multi-sensory, sound-based installation, Amie aims to portray Army life to those on Civvy Street, in a vibrant and unique way.

She said, “As humans we haven’t yet learned to co-exist peacefully, so war happens and war destroys lives.

“Soldiers put their lives on the line between the savagery of war and the civilian public – yet soldiers are really ‘just’ people, too. My hope is that Other Ranks allows visitors insight into the humanity of military personnel.

“It is not a comment on militarism; it is a heartfelt cry of support for human beings, in all our confusion and contradiction, and the ways in which we each do our best to take care of each other.”

Amie has been working on the Other Ranks project for the past five years. She captures the relentless pounding of marching soldiers’ boots to form a poignant backdrop to the installation in the Fort’s temporary exhibition space.

Fort Operations Manager Nigel Hosier said, “As Fort Nelson played a vital role during the First and Second World Wars it provides an ideal backcloth to Amie’s stimulating exhibition. We are delighted to be unveiling it to our visitors at a time when our minds are very much on remembrance, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Other Ranks uses 16 wall-mounted speakers and four subwoofers to broadcast the sounds of soldiery; marching, drill exercises, handling weapons, tackling an assault course and training in urban warfare.

All the while, the sound of an endless parade of marching feet turns museum visitors’ thoughts to the people who wore those Army boots – each the hero of their own story.

Empty boots surround the space, standing as a testament to the absence of all who offered their lives, in defence of their friends and loved-ones.
Underfoot, hundreds of photos, uploaded to the project by members of the public, carpet the floor, representing both the human cost of warfare and its destructiveness.

Amie added, “Other Ranks owes its existence to many contributors and friends and I am grateful to Royal Armouries, and to the British Army, for helping to make this project a reality.

“A project of this scale and scope requires a lot of research and preparation. The bulk of the work has been finding and engaging guys willing to speak about their experience, to shed light on the subject with facts and feelings usually withheld from public exposure.

“I’ve been on five different Army camps and visited a TA veterans’ group. I’ve recorded in fields, backrooms, in the street, under the feet of the Grenadier Guards and inside a mocked-up Afghan Forward Ops Base.

Other Ranks forms part of the Royal Armouries’ Inspired by …….project. It is set to run at Fort Nelson until the end of April 2014.

Fort Nelson is home to the national collection of artillery – the big guns! Museum and exhibition entry, plus parking, are free.

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Notes to editors

To find Fort Nelson, follow the brown Tourist signs from the M27. The Fort is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.

Download the PDF press release.