One hundred years ago a veteran of the conflict asserted his faith that in time “ the country would come back to life, the grass would grow again, the wild flowers return” and that the Fallen “would lie still and at peace below the singing birds, beside the serenely flowing rivers … they would be part of us for ever”.
The 2018 exhibition will honour that vision by seeking the participation of peoples from all countries, that were actively involved in the conflict, in a spirit of fellowship and reconciliation to bring our programme to a fitting conclusion.
The project is now widely recognised as having created a unique First World War exhibition. It has reached out to an international audience of more than 10 million people in nine countries. The collection is presented as a free-to-view outdoor exhibition to enable the greatest ease of access by the public.
Completely free to view in public parks, streets and city centres, the exhibition brings us the story of reconciliation across the lands of the warring nations. Once places of devastating violence, we now see landscapes of great beauty, testament to peace and remembrance.
With a focus on education and ideal for adults and children alike, this engaging exhibition features meticulously researched content including archive images and fascinating facts to support Michael’s contemporary battlefield images.
Visited by more than ten million people to date in the UK, France and as far afield as Turkey and New Zealand, Fields of Battle is perhaps the most viewed exhibition of the centenary period.
Click to the right for a video profile of the exhibition as it appeared in Guildhall Yard, London, between June 1st and July 3rd 2016.
Featuring interviews with Photographer Mike Sheil and Historian Sir Hew Strachan, this short video also includes moving public feedback together with schoolchildrens' thoughts on the exhibition and the First World War itself.
You have made an effort to contextualise your work. It is clear that your aim was not only to create art but also to engage with the military history of the sites you captured on film.
Did this affect how you approached your photography?
I used to be a commercial photographer but am now studying for an MA in military history.
I've totally changed direction and I'm enjoying it. The exhibition that we have in Belfast and just had in London includes 19,000 words of captions - I wrote every single one.
This all began when I first met Richard Holmes and began discussing the project. He advised me that I had to have two things: The location and some hold: a person or a story that was related to that place.
In April 2017, our latest exhibition entitled
‘The Doughboys ‘1917-1918’, featuring the part played by America during World War I, commenced simultaneous tours in the U.S.A. and the U.K. - Visit our exhibitions page for tour information.
Click the button above to help us raise the necessary funds to ensure Fields of Battle and commemoration of The First World War reaches as many people as possible in their own communities throughout the United Kingdom.
Fields of Battle 14-18 is registered as a not-for-profit charity in the UK.
Can you help us raise the funds we need to tell the story of the men who lost their lives a century ago?
View a short video on the inspiration behind Michael St Maur Sheil's journey capturing the emotional and historical heritage of landscapes which witnessed the monumental events of the
First World War.
Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace 14-18 does not seek to explain the history of the First World War, but rather seeks to introduce people to the subject by revealing some of the landscapes of battle and illustrating the stories of the people who experienced those battles. It does so in a uniquely powerful manner, by bringing these events to people in their own communities via the medium of a free to view outdoor exhibition featuring the work of Michael St Maur Sheil.
"Our vision is to commemorate The Centenary by promoting the significance, within families, locally, nationally, and internationally, of the seismic social changes The First World War has triggered over the last century. Recent surveys on public attitudes to The First World War reveal that *59% of UK citizens have visited a local war memorial, although seven in ten people do not know what their relatives did during the war...
It is precisely this gap between interest and understanding of community and familial roles and changes in the War, that our photographs and interpretations are designed to address”.
Jonathan Prince - Chief Executive Fields of Battle 14-18 Charitable Trust
Source: *YouGov, Survey of citizenship teachers (with Citizenship Foundation)