Somerset artist Rob Heard began his career making large-scale pieces in wood, which he later scaled down to create his popular Bough House sculptures. A car accident in 2013 inspired Rob to take a different direction with his work and he embarked upon the first of several large-scale installation projects remembering those who fell at the Battle of the Somme. The first project – The Somme 19240 – commemorated the 19,240 who fell on the first day of the battle. This was followed by Rob’s current project, The Shrouds of the Somme – a larger endeavour which honours the 72,396 British servicemen (and South African infantrymen) whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme, along with different ways of presenting these two projects in alternative formats, as The Brick and The Trench.
“I used to be a sculptor, making very elaborate tree houses for kids to play with and then I had a car crash. I had lots of surgery and I started thinking about people worse off than myself…
“I focused on the Battle of the Somme – with 20,000 men lost on the first day. And I started to think of what that number really looked like. I just wanted to physicalise the number. I came up with this idea of making an effigy of every one. For every single one of the men who died and yeah, I just doggedly started doing it and I do not know why.”