The Human Cost of War (2009)

'The Human Cost of War', draws emphasis upon the role of Art as a discursive practice in the development of how we understand, and contribute opinions to, the subject of War. The series of related events took place during Autumn 2009 in London, beginning with the Peace History Conference at The Imperial War Museum developed in conjunction with the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW). This was then followed by a round table discussion within a series produced by artist in residence, Goshka Macuga, in her work 'The Nature of the Beast' at The Whitechapel Gallery on the 21st November 2009. Finally there was a group show, curated by Roberta Bacic was presented at St St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, from 18th to 21st November 2009, consisted of 22 quilts and arpilleras**, each one reflecting the experiences and opinions of the creator. 

Download more information about the exhibition here.

Helen's contribution to the exhibition is entitled 'Walking to Death'. It deals with the forgotten history of the Republic of Ireland's significant involvement in the First World War and the way in which the newly independent state, established in 1922, chose not to acknowledge their participation in it for many years. Helen was struck by the role of the Irish war poets as they recorded their experiences from the Front. She made this piece, originally entitled 'Soldiers', inspired by a poem of F.S. FLint, in January 2003 for the exhibition 'Hanging on every word', in Bangor, Co Down. The poem was written when Flint saw a friend marching towards the Front. He could not warn him of what was about to happen to the soldiers because he was under the order of silence. One can see soldiers who are carrying guns. Their faces are blank, anonymous, ready to walk to death as part of the huge numbers to die during the War. 

** Arpilleras or cuadros, are detailed hand-sewn three dimensional textile pictures, that illustrate the stories of the lives of the women of the shantytowns (pueblo jovenes) of Lima, Peru. They originated in Chile, where women political prisoners, held during the Pinochet regime, used them to camouflage notes sent to helpers outside, and today, arpilleras are created in a number of cooperatives located in the dusty shantytowns of poor and displaced families that ring the capital city of Lima.