Great War MK Remembered

On 6th November 2015, the Great War MK partners are presenting the finale to their WW1 centenary project – a powerful performance of dance, drama, poetry, music and film.  Drawing on the different elements produced over the last two years, Great War MK Remembered will provide a poignant evening for all.

This showcase will bring together a patchwork of creative responses to WW1 in an evening of entertainment, commemoration and reflection.  The evening will celebrate the talent and achievements of the Milton Keynes arts and heritage community and will include performances of original music composed by young people, moving dramatic performances from Pepper’s Ghost Theatre Company, haunting poetry, and breath-taking choreography with dancers from Shenley Retirement Village and Initiate Youth Dance Company.  There’s also a rare chance to see the spectacular replica of a WW1 tank created by carnival company Festive Road and animations made by children working with Independent Cinema MK, in what promises to be an uplifting and poignant finale of the Great War MK project.Tank at Station Square

Great War MK Remembered is a unique opportunity to see the work of eleven fantastic organisations from the Milton Keynes region on one night, in one spectacular showcase performance. 

Great War MK Remembered will take place at 7.30pm on 6th November at The Venue MK, Walton High.  The show is being produced by local production company, Full House.

Tickets are £3 each or £10 for a family of four, available from

Manny Ademolu, Young Singer/Songwriter for Great War MK said:

This project has been great … it has challenged my skills as a songwriter to create a new piece of work that conveys a matter that still affects us to date. And working with a passionate and talented group of musicians is a constant reminder of the beauty and power that music holds.’ 

Euan Henderson, Chair of AHA-MK said:

‘This is the culmination of two years’ planning, researching, creating and delivering new ways of looking at the First World War 100 years ago as experienced in the area now transformed by the Metropolitan Borough and New City of Milton Keynes.’


Buy your tickets for ‘Nellie’ and ‘Your Loving Brother Albert’

Great War MKAt Radcliffe School, Wolverton

Performances: 7.30pm on Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th, Friday 14th and Saturday 15th November and matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday 15th November.

Tickets £12 & £10 (concessions) please book here:

“Your Loving Brother Albert” – Albert Edward Mortlock French, born on 22 June 1899 in New Bradwell, lived at 60 Young Street in Wolverton with his father, sister Mabel (May) and brothers George and Will. Albert was engaged as an apprentice fitter in the Bogey Shop at the Wolverton Railway Works on 4 July 1913.His record card from Wolverton Works is marked ‘Left without Notice’ on 16 October 1915. Despite being only 16, Albert had joined up ‘to do his bit’ for the war effort. He had a sense of adventure, like hundreds of others from Wolverton Works. He was killed in action on 15 June 1916, a week before his 17th birthday. He was part of a working party sandbagging a trench which was attacked by enemy machine-gun fire. He had been hit in the chest by four machine-gun bullets. Personal letters to his father from his Captain and the Chaplain tell of a fine young man, who served with pride and was an asset to his regiment. The letters were a chance discovery, in 1975, bundled among the belongings of his sister May after her death. Roger Kitchen, a co-founder of Living Archive MK, conducted interviews with the family and many others who remembered the Great War period

“Nellie” – Nellie Abbey nee Smith died in 1982. She was a remarkable woman, best known for organising the huge Whitsun Hospital Fetes in New Bradwell. She was not only a good organiser, but a person of great creativity, musical talent, boundless energy and fun who gave a life of service to her local community.

Westbury Arts Centre appoints artists for their #GreatWarMK project

Westbury Arts Centre have now appointed a textile artist and a group of dancers/choreographers to work with the community on an exciting piece of performance art for Great War MK.  Working with schools, community groups and individuals across the city the aim is to create a dynamic piece of work that could be displayed in Middleton Hall or Campbell Park. Each individual will create a piece of textile work, each telling a story of their family/history 100 years previously. They may choose to explore the social change, and the change in expectations that they experience compared to one of their ancestors 100 years ago.

Vinny Stapley – Textile Artist and Designer

Vinny StapleyVinny, born in Scotland, received a First Class Honours in Printed Textiles at Middlesex University in 2002 and  then took a PGCE in Art and Design after a  previous career working on worldwide music tours as a wardrobe consultant and as a freelance dress-maker, costume maker and sample machinist.   Vinny has exhibited widely since graduating including selling her degree show work to the Donna Karan studio and exhibiting a piece for  ‘Art of Stitch’ fashion show at the V&A Museum in 2002. Since graduating she has worked as a textile artist and designer whose experience ranges from art textiles, textile design for the fashion industry.  She has also run specialist textile workshops and teaches art and textiles.

Vinny states that: ‘My work is motivated by a pre-occupation with memories and family history.  Each gesture, mark, or element expresses an event, emotion or feeling.  Part of the process for me is the collecting of memento-mori and precious delicate fabrics.  My work documents my own family history which, as my mother’s memory loss accelerates, becomes more fragile and precious.  Sometimes these pieces take the form of little sculptural coats, referencing my great-grandfather’s work as a tailor.  They seem to dance in mid-air, devoid of bodies, contorted moments frozen in time.’

Vinny says that the Westbury Arts Centre commission resonates on a
number of levels for her – her practice of collecting family history, working within communities to develop textile artworks and the referencing of prayer flags.  Independently of this commission she has been developing work in remembrance of WW1 inspired by a visit to Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. She is also collaborating with the glass artist Chris Wood to create a major public art commission for Cochester Hospital.

Chris Bradley, Helen Parlor, Effie McGuire Ward: Dancer, Artists

Chris, Effie, Helen DancersChris, Helen and Effie are all Milton Keynes based dance artists who have been working together in various capacities since 2008, most recently acting as the directorial team for the MOTUS dance festival in Milton Keynes.  Between them they have over three decades of experience working in dance and they have many links with the MK community which Westbury Art Centre believes will be a key factor in the success of the GW project.  Chris, Helen and Effie have extensive experience of working collaboratively.

Chris graduated from De Montfort University with a 1st class honours degree in Performing Arts having specialised in Contemporary Dance and Choreography.  He has toured with a multitude of companies both nationally and internationally.  Alongside his performance career he has worked as a choreographer and teacher including working with Warwick Arts Centre’s Boys Dancing project for many years and most recently, has established a Milton Keynes based youth dance company, Initiate YDC, that performed its inaugural work at the recent dance festival.

Helen completed her degree at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.  She joined Motionhouse in 2000 after touring with Dansconnect, an initiative run by Swindon Dance, and remained with them for six years, becoming a dance captain.  Helen has also toured internationally with a Norwegian company, Panta Rei Dansteater, and nationally with Mobius Dance Theatre.  During this time she began to direct her own work and has worked as a creative director, most recently as Assistant Choreographer for the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games.  She has many links in and around Milton Keynes.

Effie began her dance training at Stella Mann College before undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.  Her professional performance experience covers a wide range of companies including Parlor Dance and most recently Ffin Dance.  Effie has experience of working with people across the age spectrum from children aged 3 to adults in education settings and in community based groups and she has worked professionally on several large-scale site-specific participatory projects including Games Time Northampton and the recent Under the Vaulted Sky for the 2014 MK International Festival.

Westbury Arts Centre is very excited to have this opportunity of working with Vinny and the dance/choreography trio of artists over the coming months and look forward to engaging with Milton Keynes community and working with the partners across the Great War MK project.

Call for actors to be in Nellie and Your Loving Brother Albert #GreatWarMK

Great War MKGreat War MK is still looking for some actors to be part of “Your Loving Brother Albert and “Nellie” in November 2014.

For “Your Loving Brother Albert” we are looking for someone to play: Dad, Aunt (Miss Gates) and Medical Officer (late 30s/early 40s would be best for all three parts).

For “Nellie” we are looking for actresses to play: Lil, Ettie, Mary (all in their early 20s) and Gladys (who might be a bit older).

If you are interested in any of these roles please contact Rosemary Hill: or ring 07932 547712

#GreatWarMK Westbury Arts Centre – Call for Artists

Westbury Arts Centre would like to commission 2 Artist’s from different disciplines to create both a performance piece and a stand-alone installation and final exhibition from hundreds of individual textile pieces in a project that will involve the local and wider community to commemorate the centenary anniversary of WWI. This project forms part of a city wide initiative with MK Arts and Heritage Alliance and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The first artist would have a background in both dance and performance and would choreograph a piece of work that would involve participants in creating a spectacular piece of theatre /dance. Inspired by the idea of communication and sending messages, the basis for this piece is Morse code, and more specifically, visual ways messages were sent, e.g. using flags.

A contemporary piece of performance would involve the community coming together to create a piece of work that possibly spells out a message, It would involve researching code and ways of communicating, and messages that were sent or that become relevant whilst researching the history and stories of those taking part.

The artist should have a proven track record of working with a diverse range of community groups, be able to work independently and when needed with a team of volunteers. The chosen artist should be able to spend a percentage of their time in Milton Keynes working on the performance for the duration of the time the project runs (to be negotiated) September 2014 until June 2015.

There is a fixed fee of £3000 available. This commission is open to artists/ performers/ choreographers nationally – closing date 14.7.14

The second artist would have a background in mixed media and textiles and would work with all those involved to create a series of flags. Each piece would be unique to the individual, possibly incorporating text and imagery, colour and pattern. Poetry of the era would be discussed, and those taking part would be encouraged to research the First World War and the ways messages were sent and the impact of the words in a message.

Sewing was something that both men and women were involved in doing wether repairing clothes in the trenches or embroidering a message. Recycling fabric and being creative with found empheria was common place. The flags created will be used in the performance piece and then will be displayed in a final exhibition, perhaps sending a message or as a final celebration.

The artist should have a proven track record of working with a diverse range of community groups, be able to work independently and when needed with a team of volunteers. The chosen artist should be able to spend a percentage of their time in Milton Keynes working on the performance for the duration of the time the project runs (to be negotiated) September 2014 until June 2015.

There is a fixed fee of £3000 available.  This is open to all artists who live or work in the Milton Keynes area – closing date 14.7.14

Please send a CV, a minimum of 6 images, an artist statement.

To the Trustees: