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The Lightbox celebrates the official opening of ‘The Horse at War: 1914 - 1918’

Members of The Light Cavalry with Aileen McLeish an d Marilyn Scott ©The Lightbox
On Tuesday 25 November, The Lightbox gallery and museum celebrated the opening of a new exhibition which commemorates the horses that served in the First World War. The exhibition, ‘The Horse at War: 1914 – 1918’ explores the role of the horse at war, from heroic charger to beast-of-burden. Guests were greeted by members of the Light Cavalry on the door of the gallery.

The exhibition, curated by Michael Regan, features a unique mix of contemporary art and historical fine art by some of the leading British artists of the day, including Sir Alfred Munnings, Lucy Kemp- Welch and William Roberts. Taking centre stage is ‘Joey’, the life-size horse puppet from the National Theatre’s acclaimed stage production of War Horse, on temporary loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Theatre and Performance Collections. A social history display created by The Lightbox’s volunteer Heritage Team features films, photographs and objects that illustrate how horses were trained and cared for in the army.

To open the exhibition, Aileen McLeish, Chairman of Trustees at The Lightbox, introduced the three speakers of the evening, Alastair Farley of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Illustrator and Theatre Designer, Rae Smith, and Director at The Lightbox, Marilyn Scott.

The Lightbox was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the exhibition and Alastair Farley commended the exhibition as a ‘wonderfully artistic way of commemorating World War One and remembering the often overlooked value of the horse in the war effort’. He went on to comment that ‘over 1000 projects that commemorate the First World War have been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Lightbox’s contribution does everything that the HLF strives to do, bringing together people, volunteers and schools to appreciate the exhibition and understand the importance of remembering the war’.

Rae Smith worked on the stage production of ‘War Horse’ and her stunning illustrations are on show in the exhibition alongside ‘Joey’. In her speech, Rae said that ‘it is very moving to see the illustrations and Joey alongside works by artists who were present at the time of the war. We are delighted Joey is here and proud to be represented in a fine art gallery’.

Marilyn Scott thanked the lenders and supporters who have made the exhibition possible, including Curator Michael Regan, the tireless work of the volunteer Heritage Team and local wine bar Cellar Magneval for sponsoring the Private View. Scott said ‘the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed us to be more ambitious with the exhibition than we would have otherwise been able, we are also extremely grateful to the V&A and National Theatre for lending us Joey, which was beyond our expectations. The Imperial War Museum and The Munnings Museum have also been incredibly generous in supporting the exhibition’, she finished with a moving reading of T.A. Girling’s poem ‘Dumb Heroes’.

The exhibition was officially opened by a former Life Guards musician, David Edwards playing the ‘Cavalry Last Post’ on the bugle.

‘The Horse at War: 1914 - 1918’ is on show at The Lightbox from 25 November 2014 until 1 March 2015. Entrance with a £5 Annual Pass. 

Pictured: Members of The Light Cavalry with Aileen McLeish an d Marilyn Scott ©The Lightbox

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