OTHER RANKS – HONOURING THE FALLEN - Thursday, 20 September 2012

The relentless pounding of marching soldiers’ boots forms a poignant backcloth in a new exhibition to mark a Month of Remembrance at Royal Armouries, Leeds, starting on November 1.

Sound artist Amie Slavin brings the multi-sensory, sound-based installation, Other Ranks, to the museum in an innovative and powerful testimony to the countless soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, while serving under the British Flag.

The free exhibition will bring to life the role of “squaddies” serving in the British Army and honour their heroism and sacrifices, while acknowledging the savagery of war.

Using 16 speakers in a rough oval, Other Ranks will 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 is intended to turn museum visitors’ thoughts to the people who wore those Army boots – each a hero of their own story.

On the floor, small lanterns will be placed, drawing eyes down as people listen. Underfoot, hundreds of photos, uploaded to the project by members of the public, will carpet the floor, representing both the human cost of warfare and its destructiveness.

Amie said, “The floor will show a mass of photographs – some soldiers and their families, others ordinary civilians; all kinds of people; anyone who can be shot, bombed, or suffer the horrors of disease or bereavement. These are not War photos, they are human ones. Some commemorate the fallen; others simply remind us that none of us is invulnerable to the effects of war; if we escape we are lucky. There but for the grace…

“Empty boots will also stand in the space, as a further reminder of the people, mostly men, who have worn the footwear and made that ultimate sacrifice for their country. Just how many boots have been left standing empty, through the generations?

“Other Ranks raises the question of whether these men are a breed apart – or ordinary people, stepping up to do an extraordinary job? We honour and commemorate the lives lost in wars – the officers, the civilians and, centrally, the ever-marching Other Ranks.”

The exhibition forms part of the Royal Armouries’ Inspired by …….project. It is set to run until the end of March but a finishing date has yet to be confirmed.

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