Behind Each Man
prize winning art
by our in-house artist, morrigan
quality prints and cards coming soon
“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
Image: History Today
Our in-house artist, Morrigan Atherton-Forshaw was inspired to created 'Behind Each Man' when her school was invited to enter the Never Such Innocence art competition in 2018.
She was delighted to win first place in the 11-14 age group and from there was invited to three extra-special events in 2018. More about these below...
Image: 'Behind Each Man' by Morrigan
About the Competition
Morrigan Begins Work
Morrigan’s history teacher at Albany Academy, Mrs Chatterley, informed her class about ‘Never Such Innocence’. This was an organisation set up to increase children’s awareness of and participation in the First World War centenary, by means of song, poetry and art.
Morrigan immediately decided she wanted to enter their 2018 art competition and she set to work on her creation. ‘Behind Each Man’ was an anonymous soldier in the trenches, intentionally created in monochrome pencil, and it took a really long time to complete, but was worth it. Once finished, because of the size of the artwork (A1) she did not send the original to the organisers, but instead sent a digital copy via her school.
Weeks went by and, though she knew the work was good, she assumed that she hadn’t won, but was glad of the experience, and still was pleased with the art work she’d produced.
We Were Astonished!
In spring 2018 Morrigan was called into her headmaster’s office and told that the visit related to the competition. The headmaster asked how she thought she’d got on, and then told her she had won in the 11-14 age group! Despite the school’s no phone policy, she was given permission to contact me and let me know, and I was so excited to get her text.
It turns out that a few of her teachers had been aware of her getting first prize since the previous week but hadn’t been allowed to let her know. I can imagine how tempted they were.
Anyway, we were delighted. We knew that there was a prize involved, but we had no idea at all about the scope of the prize and everything else that Morrigan winning the competition might involve.
We were shocked when we soon received an email inviting us to an event at the Guards Chapel next to Buckingham Palace in May 2018. Morrigan was allowed to take two adults with her so she opted to ask her history teacher, Mrs Chatterley, and me, her mum. Plans were made, train tickets from Wigan were booked, and excitement was mounting.
Horwich Music Festival
And Heritage Centre
Just before our trip to the Guards Chapel, Morrigan exhibited forty pieces of her art work as the sole exhibitor at Horwich Music Festival 2018 and received some incredibly positive feedback.
As a direct result of her exhibiting ‘Behind Each Man’, she was commissioned to create a piece of commemorative artwork especially for the 2018 Armistice Centenary celebrations at Horwich Heritage Centre. This artwork was on exhibit throughout that event , and is now on permanent display. If you get the chance to see it in person, please do, as the photos do not do it any justice.
To the Guards Chapel
The Day Arrives at Last
We met Morrigan’s history teacher and got the London train from Wigan station. We were all a bit giddy! The train journey went without a hitch as did the tube trip to Green Park and the walk to Buckingham Palace and the Guards’ Chapel. We noticed a lot of well-dressed youngsters, and it was only later that we realised that a large number were attending Buckingham Palace to receive their Prince's Trust Gold Awards.
Once we found the very subtle back entrance to the Guards Chapel, we were escorted in, and surrounded by the military. It was quite daunting at that stage, and even more daunting once we were invited to our seats in the chapel itself. Morrigan was to sit on one side with the other prize winner and myself and Mrs Chatterley sat far back on the other.
Before the ceremony, we took a look at the Centenary Winners’ Booklet which had been printed and left on each seat. The quality of the art work was excellent and I was so proud that Morrigan’s work looked so good. I was even more happy when I realised the couple in front of us were looking at their own booklet and discussing how amazing it was that ‘Behind Each Man’ had been drawn by a 13 year old. I don’t do this often, but I tapped the man on the shoulder and said ‘That’s my daughter!’ It was a very good ‘proud mummy’ feeling. The booklet is available here.
And the book of all the prizewinning entries from previous years (Never Such Innocence: The Centenary of the First World War: Children's Responses through Poetry, Art & Song) from previous years is available here.
Throughout the ceremony we got to hear a lot from the organisation’s founder and CEO, Lady Lucy French, and were treated to readings of winning poems and renditions of the winning songs. Morrigan got up to receive her prize and both Mrs Chatterley and myself were so proud to see her stride confidently up to accept it.
After the ceremony, a number of photo calls were made, and then the youngsters prepared to take a walk, accompanied by the guard pipers, to the large forecourt! While there the youngsters got to see inside the prime minister’s helicopter and talk to many of the military staff. They were also treated to another drum and pipe display and then we relaxed on the grass, nibbling on a buffet before getting some junk food and making our way home.
It was an incredible day and we loved it, apart from it being too hot! But one of the icing-on-the-cake moments was when one of the Guards called for Morrigan in person and directed her to the chapel’s steps. We had no idea what was going on.
We soon found out. There on the steps of the chapel was our local Member of Parliament, and the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP.
He spoke to Morrigan for a while, congratulated her, and we had some photographs taken. This visit was unannounced and unexpected, and Lindsay spent quite some time congratulating Morrigan. It was the icing on the cake of a brilliant day.
Later That Year
We Get Another Surprise!
We had been warned that further events were planned for later in the year, but we had no idea of what these events might be. We were seriously shocked when Morrigan and one adult were invited to attend Buckingham Palace for a ceremony in early November.
And, after a few days we also discovered that we had been invited to the 2018 Centenary Armistice Service at Westminster Abbey, to be attended by many MPs, and royalty. We couldn’t believe it, and were lucky enough that Morrigan’s school allowed both Morrigan and her brother Cormac to take a week off so we could have a holiday in London in between these once-in-a-lifetime events.
Again, we took the train down to London, but this time we set off after the kids left school, and we arrived at our dingy hotel just off the Edgeware Road that evening, all excited for the Buckingham Palace event the following day. We dropped a nervous Morrigan at Buckingham Palace (we weren’t allowed to go in with her) and Cormac and I did our own thing.
The event that afternoon was extra special because Morrigan was one of only two young people who had been asked to stand up and talk about her artwork. She did brilliantly. In the grandiose setting of the investiture room she seemed hardly nervous at all, and spoke with clarity and confidence. The day was becoming filled with proud mummy moments. After a buffet and a bit of mingling, we left to return to the hotel and get changed into scruffs - with some relief. How strange it was being so dressed up and staying in such a hotel!
Morrigan was presented with two books which she will treasure.
After a few days of doing various touristy things and enjoying life in London, we were ready for Westminster Abbey - and wow what an occasion that was. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take cameras or phones into the Abbey, and we were sitting in a position which meant that we were directly at the crossover point between two television cameras. But the service was astonishing. Many important people spoke, including Theresa May. The Prince of Wales and the young royals (William, a newly pregnant Meghan, Kate and Harry) walked past, as did a lot of MPs. I was a little star struck but once the service began, the whole experience was so overwhelming and inspiring that the celebrity element lost its appeal somewhat.
What an amazing occasion it had been, and what an enormous privilege it was to have been a small part of it, especially for Morrigan.
At the Palace
My name is Morrigan. I am now 14 years old and am a Year 10 student at Albany Academy in Chorley, Lancashire.
Drawing was one of my first passions. On my second birthday I drew an easily recognisable bird, and for the next few years I mainly drew animals, gymnasts and dancers. I took a break from art for a little while as I wanted to try out some other pursuits after drawing portraits of my high school friends. These commissions were undertaken to raise money for the cancer charity my school supports.
From this point, I realised that portraits were definitely my preferred art form, and my realistic art work drew a lot of interest and support from friends, teachers and Instagram followers.
As time has progressed I have taken on quite a few paid commissions, and have created artworks as gifts for friends and family members. I’ve also taught art classes at Chorley’s Youth Zone, and have a dozen of my drawings on permanent display there.
With regard to competitions, I have won quite a few online, and have had work featured on many websites, but had never entered a worldwide competition until my old history teacher, Mrs Chatterley, approached me about entering the Never Such Innocence competition. I was keen to enter and began work on my large drawing right away.
The drawing ‘Behind Each Man’ is meant to show both the humanity and deliberate anonymity of the First World War soldier, with more attention paid to the surroundings, the uniform and the backpack, than the face of the man himself.
I was so honoured to have been selected as 2018’s first prize winner in the 11-14 age group, for this picture I completed when I was 13 years old.
In May 2018 I was the sole art exhibitor at Horwich Music Festival, and as a direct result of this, and the display of ‘Behind Each Man,’ I was commissioned by Horwich Heritage Society to create a large, original pencil art work for their World War One commemoration events. This picture is to be unveiled at a special event on Saturday 10th November this year. The work I’ve created will be on permanent long-term display in pride of place at the Heritage Centre.
My work has been used as cover images for Scott Martin Productions books, and I have also exhibited at Adlington Library for the whole of July and August this year. On display were a selection of around 40 drawings and paintings. Feedback to everything I’ve mentioned so far has been extremely positive, and has further spurred me on to concentrate on building up my portfolio and working towards my career as an artist.