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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Recent Somme and Ypres tour.


Len Trim

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Stayed at Avril's at Auchonvillers for three nights. Which was great as usual. Weather poor but did not stop us getting out and about. Highlights the Glory Hole and Albert Museum. Hawthorn Crater well worth a visit now it has been partially cleared. Good access path to the bottom.

Not having visited the Salient for two years I wondered if things might have quietened down now that the commemorations are over. Not a bit of it! The restaurants and bars seemed to be as busy as ever and on Saturday night there were nearly 2000 people at the Menin Gate ceremony. 

Good trip but unhappy at the increase in signage and memorials at Lochnagar Crater and Frezenberg Ridge. Anymore and an element of Disneyfication will creep in.

Len

 

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'Disneyfication'    Two lines of argument emerge.  One a classicist, 'less is more' approach (one that I must admit I am more aesthetically in tune with).  The second is a more populist stance which allows people to help pay for the upkeep of the site by erecting memorials of their own choice of design/materials/massing/orientation and quality.   This view recognises that a broader range of people have an interest in perpetuating the site.    But what is the tipping point into 'Disneyfication' and how will we know when we have reached it ?    If somebody buys land and decides to erect a memorial of their own choice of design, do they not have a right to do so ?         The CWGC memorials on the Western Front erected in the wake of the Great War take the form of a stripped down classicism allied to a country churchyard idyll.  They are most moving I think we would all agree. I particularly like the work of Lutyens and Baker.  In retrospect we may be glad this was the way things panned out but it was not axiomatic that a stripped down version Classicism was chosen as the best means of expression.   A handful of people made that decision and imposed it on the rest of us.  Minimalist classicism (proto Art Deco) was simply the patrician style du jour - just as forty or so years previously Art Nouveau had been in vogue.  Imagine the memorials of the Western Front articulated in a cloak of Art Nouveau.  Now there's food for thought.

Edited by Hyacinth1326
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You are correct of course. Similar arguments have raged in Scottish outdoor circles especially hill walking. Do we keep the hills as near their so called natural state as possible thereby demanding a high level of fitness and navigational ability in hill goers or do we create car parks, paths, sign posts etc. I am firmly of the first school and happily accept the accusation of elitist. If we go down the easier access path, pun intended, we destroy the very thing people go for eg.remoteness, wilderness, nature etc. Perhaps the same applies to memorials and other battlefield memorabilia. Less is more.

Len

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