We are thrilled to announce that we have secured an artist to create the artwork which will be installed at the National Memorial Arboretum in the UK.
Elí Smith will be well-known to Faroese visitors to this website as pieces of his work can be seen at the national gallery, in churches around the Faroe Islands and have featured on stamps. For us, his immediate understanding of the emotional importance of this project was key to inviting him to work with us and, within only three weeks of hearing about our aims, he and his wife, Brita, visited the arboretum to get an idea of the space, the ambience and the range of artworks representing other groups. He came back full of inspiration and ideas and, to our delight, agreed to design and produce something very special for us.
Overview of The National Arboretum
Although he has worked with various media in his life as an artist, Elí is particularly drawn to working with stone but, unusually, in two rather than three dimensions. He either grinds stones and rocks into a powder which he then applies with a binding agent to create a technique which is comparable to painting or he cuts the stones and rocks into small pieces to form a composition in mosaic. It is this latter method which he will use to produce our design for the memorial.
Elí was born in 1955, and lives in the capital of the Faroe Islands, Torshavn. He trained in radio mechanics and, like many of his countrymen, he went to sea as a young man. While he was sailing he developed an interest in photography but, in 1980 he began to paint and two years later he went to Denmark to study art.
Elí married Brita in 1986 and they started a family. During the early 1990s his four children (Napoleon, Líggjas, Anna and Sigrun) inspired him to produce a book of drawings and lullabies called 'Sleep Softly and Sleep', which was awarded the prize for Faroese Literature for Children and in 1999 he became a full time artist.
Elí is also influenced by two other great loves in his life - his faith and the natural world around him. He is very much in demand for images which resonate with Bible stories and the life of Christ, and is also drawn to creating pictures that reflect the landscape he sees in his native country and its neighbours, travelling as far as Greenland to collect the stones and rocks he uses to ensure the palette he paints from is authentic in its colours.
We are very excited to have Elí on board, and look forward to seeing the finished mosaic for our Faroe Islands War Memorial.
Images: Elí Smith
Also joining our creative team is renowned master craftsman, Nick Hindle, who has previously completed many projects for the National Memorial Arboretum. Nick is part of a family business which has been operating for over 35 years and encompasses all aspects of stonemasonry from design to production, using a variety of stones. The company has won many awards and accolades from the National Association of Memorial Masons for their design, lettering and work in particular types of stone.
When Elí saw Nick's work at the Arboretum in May this year, he came home with a request that we "find that man and ask him to make our granite base!" Fortunately, it didn't take too much detective work to trace Nick back to his workshop in Norfolk and, like Elí, as soon as he heard our story he wanted to be involved. We love the idea of these two men, one Faroese and the other British, working together on a project which ultimately honours both the Faroe Islanders and the British servicemen who all went through the experience of the conflict of the Second World War alongside each other.
For our project Nick will be sourcing a piece of granite which Elí's artwork will be mounted on. He will cut the stone and shape it according to Elí's vision, and then carve the words of the dedication into it.