By Leah Linhares
Photography: Courtesy Mark Humphrey
Fusing art with design to convey heartfelt gratitude, IAnD probes the intent and emotions that drove ‘Forever’ – the war memorial by international award-winning creator - Mark Humphrey.
Not defined by any particular signature style, Mark follows his heart, when he sculpts. He applies his philosophy to each project brief taking on a different challenge, each time. He conceptualizes the core idea, sketches the initial design and then paints it onto a canvas to summarize the core idea and emotion of the work.
Crafted from dark grey and white Carrara marble, the freestanding 5 tonne sculpture was donated by Mark to the town of Royal Wootton Bassett as a token of appreciation for the military funeral repatriations (2007-2011) of the fallen servicemen and women, who succumbed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Driven by a commitment to explore the emotions that art offers, Mark’s poppy memorial is fashioned from hard marble, which represents the harshness of war. While designing this exclusive sculpture, key features involved engineering, designing and chiselling the heavy, cold and hard qualities of the stone as a physical material in relation to achieving the desired ‘delicate’ visual effect, which lends it its feeling of lightness, elegance and remembrance - emotions of a poppy flower blowing in the wind.
Positioned on a concrete base, atop a grass mound, the four white petals of the poppy flower epitomize the vulnerability of human life and are representative of remembrance, a concept initiated post World War I. The four hearts, one for each petal, is a symbol expressing gratitude, honour, love and respect; these four elements make up a cross shape dedicated to ‘sacrifice and forgiveness’.
The flower faces the town with a single concrete path at the start of the repatriation trail as 12 spotlights make a clock face around its circular plinth. The poppy is white by day, a symbol peace; and by night, it is illuminated in red for remembrance.
The 6 components: 4 petals, a stem and a stamen; all carved from solid marble with stainless steel pins connecting all parts and glued into position, took Mark two months and two days of dedicated hard work.
Obsessed with always wanting to improve, reinvent and challenge new methods, Mark’s stone poppy is an immense feat of engineering, designing and crafting.