Archaeologists frequently talk about monuments in relation to movement. Monuments can commemorate migrations, diasporas and dislocations from place for past living people, and the bodies of the dead (aka cenotaphs). Also, monuments and memorials can readily depict movement of people, animals and things in symbolic ways. They might require movement through their location and relationship with other memorials, paths and routes, as well as demanding movement in order for the visitor to engage with all their sides and surfaces. They might provoke movement by requesting prayers and other ritualised gestures: to touch inscribed texts, to leave offerings. Monuments might respond to the movements around them: including orientations on celestial bodies. Furthermore, monuments might themselves move, as they are translated to new locations and settings.
The need to represent movement, and incorporate movement into monuments seems particularly important for memorials to infants and children. Let me take some examples from the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire. These reflect a broader trend found in many cemeteries and churchyards, where memorials to infants and children are not only ‘busy’ and ‘vibrant’, but also sometimes include moving elements: wind chimes and windmills included.
In this blog, let’s discuss one. Movement is fixed in an evocative new statue, commemorating displaced children of the Second World War. Commissioned by the British Evacuees Association, it is called ‘Every Which Way’. It was opened in July 2017. The inscription reads:
‘Every Which Way’ – Maurice Bilk PPRBS
TO REMEMBER THE EVACUATION OF MILLIONS OF BRITISH CHILDREN SEPARATED FROM THEIR FAMILIES DURING WWII (1939 – 1945)
COMMISSIONED BY THE BRITISH EVACUEES ASSOCIATION
The nine children are shown in the process of movement ‘every which way’: being taken away from their urban families for re-housing in the countryside, and abroad to escape wartime bombing. Rather than a destination, each of them bears a label with ‘every which way’ inscribed upon it.
Different ages and genders are shown, together with their luggage and one with a teddy bear.
They gaze upward and outward: lost and searching for a destination. Some look forward, some sideways, some back: emphasising a sense of loss and directionless.
Yet, this traumatic dislocation – movement is hear one of both physical and emotional separation – is countered by their outstretch arms linking together, affording the hope of continued bonds in life and death between each other and their families.
The website of the Evacuee Association states that the memorial isn’t just to the children but also to:
all those involved in the evacuation process i.e. the train drivers, teachers, nurses, billeting offices, and of course, the foster parents. It is intended to portray the greatest family and social upheaval ever experienced in the long history of our country, a unique, never to be repeated, part of British history.
This is, however, one of a network of memorials to infants and children at the NMA that particularly evoke movement, and in subsequent blogs I’ll address further examples.