This Sunday marks 100 years since Armistice Day, when, on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in 1918, World War I, known then as the Great War, the guns fell silent and an armistice was declared. And in this year of 2018, until Sunday, 10,000 candles a night will illuminate the Tower of London for this memorial.
The installation is called ‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’ and it will surely mean different things to different people: as the candles burn some may remember the stories of relatives killed in the conflict, some may reflect on the people who survived the war and went on to re-build their lives, some may think of the memorial inscriptions around the world to those fallen from many towns, villages and work places, and some may simply ponder the massive loss of life of a generation past.
The 10,000 candles will be placed in the dry moat which surrounds The Tower of London. It will take around 45 minutes for the lights to be lit by volunteers and they will burn for approximately 4 hours. Illuminating the spectacular backdrop of the Tower of London, the candle lights will be accompanied by a specially commissioned choral work called Sonnets to a Soldier, as well as a sonic exploration of the shifting tide of political alliances, friendship, love and loss in war.
Described as an evolving spectacle, lighting this number of candles is an operation which requires a lot of organisation. Volunteers will be put into pairs and given a particular ‘zone’ to light. Each pair consisting of a ‘leader’ with a magnetic hook to lift a metal cover off each holder, followed by a ‘lighter’ who carries a tiny blowtorch on the end of a rod to light each flame. Volunteers have had fire safety training and have all been issued with special grey coloured and flame-resistant boiler-suits – to blend into the backdrop of the Tower.
Beyond the Deepening Shadow starts at around 5pm every night, it is free to visit, and runs until Sunday.