This year, we have been delighted to create a collaborative living graphic novel funded by Heritage Lottery Fund with young people from Hastings about the First World War experiences of Hastings-born combatant Archie Belaney who signed up with the 13th Montreal Battalion: the Canadian Black Watch.
Earlier in 2019, we teamed up with the Hastings Museum & Art Gallery and Gateways to the First World War Engagement Centre to work with a group of volunteers aged 16-25 from the University of East Sussex, Hastings to research, “unpack” and interpret the experiences of Archie and create a graphic novel animation together. Archie disappeared from his life in Hastings to become a fur trapper and woodsman in Canada and then fought in the trenches as a sniper during World War One. When he returned to Canada he entirely adopted the life of a Canadian Native American including taking the name “Grey Owl”.
The research, conducted with the help of Gateways to the First World War and Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, has culminated in the creation of a living graphic novel exploring Archie’s experiences in the trenches and life in Canada.
The production premiered at the Performing the Past Symposium (QUB) on Monday 20th May (part of Living Legacies 1914-1918), before touring at Hastings Museum, Bridport Lyric and other venues across the UK, screened with a live score by the Cabinet of Living Cinema followed by a Q & A panel featuring volunteers, the Cabinet and the animation team. The live performance is now live (see above) and the recorded score is available as our album: A Forest Grew.
We have been delighted to be working with graphic novel illustrator Hannah Eaton in the creation of Grey Owl on the Western Front.