Battle of Passchendaele sculpture by Kitchener artists head to Belgium

A team of blacksmith artists were commissioned to create an interactive sculpture to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. The sculpture will remain in a museum in Belgium.

Sandra Dunn and her team at Two Smiths spent over 40 hours creating the sculpture

Blacksmith artists from Kitchener were commissioned by Veterans Affairs Canada to create an interactive sculpture to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele. The sculpture was taken to Belgium, where it will remain in a museum. (Sandra Dunn)

 A sculpture created by a group of blacksmiths in Kitchener, Ont. is on its way to Belgium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele on Friday. 

Sandra Dunn and her team at Two Smiths were commissioned by Veterans Affairs Canada several weeks ago to create an interactive sculpture that was unveiled in Ottawa to kick off Veterans' Week on Monday. It was then shipped to Belgium, where it will remain in a museum.

The team at Two Smiths designs and builds architectural ironwork, furniture and sculptures that are forged using different metals like copper, steel, aluminum and bronze. 

Sandra Dunn and her team spent more than 40 hours creating this interactive sculpture. Over 200 cards with had written messages of peace are placed in the slot. The intent is for people to be able to read the messages. (Sandra Dunn)

"I think the act of commemorating is a really important one and there are all kinds of ways that we remember things and I think it's important to recognize that we make choices about stories to tell and to remember," Dunn told Andrew Coppolino, guest host of  CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

During the ceremony in Ottawa, messages of peace and remembrance by Sherry Romando, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Finance, Governor General Julie Payette and 150 students from the Encounters with Canada program were incorporated into the sculpture.

Creating the Passchendaele sculpture was expecially meaningful for Bram Porter (left), as he served in the war in Afghanistan. Bronson Kozdas (right), also helped put the sculpture together. (Sandra Dunn)
Sandra Dunn talks about how she and her team were approached by Veterans Affairs Canada to create an art piece to commemorate 100th anniversary of Battle of Passchendaele. 8:51

Creating the sculpture

This sculpture wasn't Dunn's first Remembrance Day piece. In 2015 she led a project that involved blacksmith groups across the country forging poppies for part of a large war monument in Ypres, Belgium.

For the 2017 piece, Dunn and her team spent over 40 hours designing and forging the sculpture.

It consists of a metal base forged and textured to look like a muddy path with three bronze disks, representing identification soldier tags and made to look like they are sinking into the mud. Each disk has a line from the Act of Remembrance that says "We shall remember them" in English, French and Dutch.

Dunn also mentioned the sculpture has three poppies made to look like they are growing from the muddy base. A rectangular slot was cut out to insert the 200 hand written messages from Monday's ceremony in Ottawa.

Sandra Dunn and her team at Two Smiths, where they design and build architectural ironwork, furniture and sculpture in a number of metals, forged several poppies as part of an interactive sculpture to honour the Battle of Passchendaele. (Sandra Dunn)

"I'm hoping that the idea of loss will be conveyed by the bronze disks that are sinking in the mud and that there is a sense of hope," Dunn said.

"And that people actually look through the messages that have been written in the cards and gain some sort of understanding."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.