To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme, 30-year-old artist Scarlett Raven has unveiled an ambitious visual arts exhibition, through the realm of augmented reality.
Raven's new collection of work, The Danger Tree, is inspired by the legendary WWI poets Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke, and uses as a central focus the image of a poppy – a beauty born from destruction.
Raven is the first oil painter to work in the exciting world of augmented reality, teaming up with industry leading application Blippar to unveil the process of creating her multi-layered oil paintings.
“My paintings have always had layers,” said Raven. “But no one has seen them until now.”
While creating her pieces, Raven set up cameras to capture the journey, with each picture having up to 10,000 photographs depicting its growth.
Within the exhibition, the individual layers, hidden from the final picture, are brought back to life using the Blippar app. Black crows swarm the scene before disappearing in a wave of darkness and sunny skies give way to grey clouds and transform into stunning sunsets. Beneath the ground, under the beauty of the sunflowers, poppies and bluebells lay many a lost life, and broken heart.
The paintings lie within a 2,000ft exhibition space, transformed to create a blown-out building from the French/Belgian borders, with broken windows, exposed roof and crumbling walls echoing the the sounds of war.
Accompanying the journey of the paintings are the words of the war poets who inspired Raven’s works, movingly expressed by leading British actors including Sean Bean and Christopher Eccleston. Even within the sound, however, the pictures speak a thousand words.
“It’s an incredibly emotive experience,” an exhibition spokesperson said. “We’ve had people in here in floods of tears.”
The series also serves as a memorial tribute to the Newfoundland Regiment who, during WWI, used a tree about halfway into No Man’s Land to gather. There were many casualties resulting near the tree, which was highly visible to German artillery, and it became known among the soldiers as The Danger Tree. A replica of the twisted tree stands by the entrance to the new exhibition.
Following the launch in London, The Danger Tree will run in Greenwich until 31 July, before touring the UK throughout October and November, exhibiting in Birmingham and Manchester and Liverpool.