Chantal Guillermet – Country – Artist
In memoriam : Vimy
Walter Seymour Allward (Toronto 1876- Toronto 1955) is a monument sculptor and designer best known for the “Canadian National Vimy Memorial”. It is the largest of Canadian war monuments and commemorates Canadians killed in the First World War. It is situated in the Northern part of France on Vimy battlefield. The land for the Battlefield Park was granted by French Nation to Canada in 1922 in recognition of Canada’s war effort, and was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996.
Allward is well known for his original sense of spacial composition, his mastery of classical forms and his brilliant craftmanship. Before submitting the final plan of the monument he made at least 150 design sketches.
I visited the place with my Canadian friends and was really impressed: I had never heard about it before. I got my inspiration from the monument itself and it was not easy to take distance as its impact is very strong.
I started by the background composition, using different shades of green and adding small inserts of red. I quilted the whole piece with oblique lines like furrows in a field. I used a picture of the engraved names of the killed soldiers to make a paper lamination and built the two towers of the monument with it.
Different groups of statues decorate the monuments. Using the head of a weeping woman, I traced it on silk organza and embroidered it with stem stitches on the quilt. She stands like a shadow.
At the end I applied a stripe of dyed tarlatane and saw randomly small red flowers (from a hand dyed piece of lace) like poppies; poppies being the symbol of killed soldiers during World War I.
I was also influenced by a book written by Jane Urquhart “The Stone carvers” whose plot takes place during the construction of the monument. A powerful and beautiful novel.