“This is the first time I have undertaken a war memorial, and immersing myself in this project has been both physically and emotionally challenging,” says British artist David Williams-Ellis of his sculpture for the British Normandy Memorial, which will be unveiled in the town of Ver-sur-Mer, France, on June 6 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944.
The bronze of three armed infantry figures will reside in the forecourt of the memorial – complementing the monument itself, which has been designed by British architect Liam O’Connor – overlooking Gold Beach, one of five designated landing areas of the Normandy invasion. The memorial will feature a commemorative Roll of Honour, which includes the names of each of the 22,442 fallen soldiers. An exhibition of the bronze maquettes from the project will subsequently go on show at London’s Portland Gallery (from June 12 to 21) and Masterpiece Art Fair (from June 27 to July 3), where the pieces can be purchased as individual figures (£6,750 each) or as a group (£25,000).
“It was imperative to me that the soldiers I created allowed the many thousands of people who will visit the site the ability to relate to those who died and the historical importance of the day,” Williams-Ellis says. “I felt the poignancy of the group must convey a sense of place, reflecting that Gold Beach was the centre of the D-Day landings. It is important to remember that soldiers under British command made up over half of those who landed.”