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Email sent to Chorley Guardian. Tue 2 July 2013
Sent: Tue Jul 2 16:40:28 2013
From: Boyd Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Title: ‘Chorley Remembers Experience’ exhibition
Below are some of my views about the ‘Chorley Remembers Experience’ exhibition which you may find of interest for your Viewpoint pages in the Chorley Guardian. I’ve also attached some photographs.
I recently visited Astley Hall to view the annual exhibition put on by Chorley Photographic Society. Not only was it up to the usual high standard but, in my view, was the best they’ve ever held.
As I left I decided to walk across to the Coach House to see the ‘Chorley Remembers Experience’ exhibition that opened a few weeks ago.
There had been some objections to the setting up of this exhibition as it would use an entire exhibition room within the coach house which had previously been made available for art exhibitions and displays by groups and individuals.
Dedicating the room for at least 2 years for one user certainly wasn’t fair.
The need for a ‘Chorley Remembers’ exhibition was also questioned. A friend of mine put it very well when he wrote about the memorials to Chorley’s casualties in various wars.
Arthur Tatton gave Astley Park to the Town so that; "Chorley Remembers",
A Cenotaph/War Memorial was erected in Astley Park so that; "Chorley Remembers",
A room in Astley Hall was given over so that; "Chorley Remembers",
A plaque was affixed to the wall of "Booths" grocers so that; "Chorley Remembers",
A monument to the fallen was erected on the Flat Iron in Feb 2010 so that; "Chorley Remembers"
Spending around £80,000 on another memorial didn’t seem to make sense, even if it was Lottery money.
I put all these thoughts aside as I visited the exhibition.
The first thing I saw was a sign saying ‘This way to the front line’ then the ‘Charley Pal’ cut out cartoon character mounted by the entrance. It didn’t seem fitting for a memorial to those who gave their lives while fighting for their country.
Inside the exhibition were some excellent display cabinets showing documents, memorabilia and photographs. These gave a sort of impression of what things may have been like. The larger photographic displays, with associated information were also of high quality and informative.
I thought the Chorley Remembers Shop of saleable items was as inappropriate as the cartoon character.
Items for sale were ‘Chorley Remembers’ pens, pencils, rubbers, car stickers, mugs and even fudge. This is the sort of thing I would expect on a visit to Alton Towers or the Blackpool seaside. Just a money making exercise.
Further on was a sign pointing ‘to the front line.’ Then I reached the mock-up of a Great War trench which seemed more of a child’s play area. A few sound effects of gunfire and bombs didn’t add anything.
My main concern was the totally tasteless ‘sniper’s nest’ display where 2 rifles, one with a telescopic sight, were positioned at a window with a view of the park. This would have been better displayed as a photograph and not an actual set up to encourage people to look through the sight and imagine what it was like to kill someone at a distance. Sniping was, and remains, part of the murkier side of war and a very nasty part as well.
I know some computer games revel in this sort of ‘experience’ but the reality is beyond comprehension.
In fact, the trench mock-up and a lot of the photo information displays would have been better covered with a dedicated website which would have been available 7 days a week and not Saturday and Sunday afternoons as the current exhibition is.
I am of a generations who’s parent’s joined the forces and served in WW2. Many of our fathers wouldn’t talk about their experiences in detail and WW1 must have been even worse. The death rate then was much higher.
A sandbag trench mock-up in a warm, dry and cosy room can never resemble the actual ‘experience.’