Armistice Museum to exhibit local artwork

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Local artist Mike Etienne spent three years producing a larger-scale replica of a British Army officer’s wristwatch.

Following a trip he undertook with the watch to Western Front battlefields and memorials in the summer, the Armistice Museum and Memorial in Compiègne in Picardy, Northern France – which commemorates the signing of the Armistice Treaty on 11 November 1918 – offered to include it in their exhibition.

Mr Etienne returned to the museum earlier this month with his mother, Elizabeth, to finalise the loan of the artwork.

The museum’s director, Bernard Letemps, showed them around the focal point of the site – a replica of the railway carriage where the treaty was signed. It is normally off limits to the public.

‘I had the opportunity to enter the Armistice railway carriage in order to take photos of the watch on the table, where the treaty was signed 100 years ago,’ Mr Etienne said.

‘Entering the carriage, I was immediately stuck by the atmosphere of the space. It felt and smelt old, and there was something else, which isn’t easy to describe in words.

‘This was a place where possibly one of the most important documents in modern history had been signed.

‘I felt humbled and honoured to be in such a space, and to see a work that I had created on the table used by people of the past was very moving.’

The artwork, titled A Time to Remember, will form part of the museum’s centenary commemorations elsewhere on the historic site.

From Friday 21 September until 4 October it will be on public display at CCASM art gallery at Sommerville House in Phillips Street.

Islanders will also be able to see the watch and hear the story behind it when Mr Etienne gives a talk about his artwork at the Library at 1 pm on 5 October.

The watch has been hand-crafted in steel with the time set at 11 am, which is when hostilities ceased in November 1918.

It also records the time and location of the signing of the Armistice Treaty by the Allies and Germany between 5.12 am and 5.20 am in Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch’s railway carriage outside Compiègne.

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