Artist creates life-size soldier statue as Houghton Feast remembers World War One

Work in progress on the first world war commemorative piece by artist Mark Burns Cassell, commissioned by Sunderland City Council's Coalfield Area Committee.
Work in progress on the first world war commemorative piece by artist Mark Burns Cassell, commissioned by Sunderland City Council's Coalfield Area Committee.
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A HOUGHTON artist has created a life-size model of a soldier to mark the First World War centenary – in time for his home town’s annual feast.

Mark Burns Cassell was commissioned by Sunderland City Council’s Coalfield Area Committee to create the installation, for this year’s Houghton Feast, which has a First World War theme.

The piece – titled A Foreign Field – is a 3D model of a soldier from the trenches covered in papier-mache extracts from war poetry and will be unveiled at the festival’s launch tomorrow.

Mark created the statue in his Houghton studio, then worked with schools and community groups to create ceramic poppies, which will be secured to barbed wire, and placed around the soldier’s feet, up his legs and up the rifle stock. The poppies will be inscribed with the names of people and families from the local area, past and present.

“I’ve been really pleased with the response from the local councillors and all of the schools and community groups I’ve worked with,” Mark said. “The poppies are a key feature and the fact they have been made by local people, to signify the sacrifices made by other local people 100 years ago is very special.”

After the ceremony, the installation will be displayed in the window of Houghton Library, on Newbottle Street, until early next year.