Peckham resident and local artist and social historian Melissa Smith has been working on a project for over a year to re-create an iconic post-card photograph in the same Peckham Street it was originally taken in 1915.
Yesterday, 1 May 2015, 18 Horses from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment – 9 from the Blues and Royals and 9 from the Life Guards and Joey, the National Theatre’s life-size puppet horse from War Horse congregated on Lyndhurst Way, Peckham. Children from 3 local schools at the event, will later this month will attend a performance of War Horse at the New London Theatre.
Melissa said: ‘This photograph is haunting in so many ways, but perhaps because we know that so many of the men and horses in it never came home it is especially poignant. I had dreamed of re-creating it because it’s such a powerful image, and it’s possible because the street remains virtually unchanged in the 100 years since it was taken. As an artist I am inspired and delighted by history, and I’m always looking for ways to bring it to life. Because of War Horse, we know that animals provide a useful key to help children understand and learn about WWI, and that gave me the idea to work with local schools and give children the opportunity to do Special WWI Centenary Arts Awards. I am especially interested in history that has been lost or unrecorded and in hearing the stories of people without privilege, so I linked this with author Stephen Bourne’s book ‘Black Poppies’, about Britain’s Black Community in WWI. The re-enactment is not about glorifying war, it is a way of remembering and discovering. It’s a powerful reminder of how much has changed since 1915.’
Joey’s puppeteers were Shaun McKee (Joey Head), Michael Taibi (Joey Heart) and Derek Arnold (Joey Hind). They are joined by actor Jason Langley as Captain Nicholls.
Tuesday 12th May 2015