WWI Remembrance: Clay Figures Amass in Belgium

600,000 Clay Figures Assembling in Ypres, Belgium

Belgium WWI remembrance clay figures

Mobile workshops around the world have been used by students and tourists, among others, to create the 600,000 fist-sized clay figures that constitute the WWI remembrance. The installation began in February and is slated to be complete March 30 when it will officially open.

The figures, crouching people, are being installed in the former no-man’s-land that separated a German trench from a trench for the British during WWI.

The city of Ypres, Belgium, saw much damage and casualties during the war.

This art installation is to commerorate 100 years since World War I. The aim is to help visitors to the area reflect on what happened then, and to honor both the military members and civilians who died in the conflict.

Just as servicemen and women wear ‘dog tags,’ each of the clay figures will have a dog tag. The tag will honor a specific person who died as well as the person who created the sculpture.

dog tags for wwi clay figures

The clay figures are to remain in place until November–the month 100 years ago that the war officially ended. Until then, they will be exposed to the harsh Belgian elements. When the installation is over, the figurines will be given away.

The last two known survivors of WWI died in 2011. Perhaps some of the figures will be given to their descendants. Sadly, what at the time everyone felt was the last war, turned out not to retain that distinction for long.

Photos credit: Virginia Mayo/Associated Press

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