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Silhouette of First World War soldier appears in Penshurst as part of There But Not There campaign

An art installation in a small Kent church has inspired a national movement that has seen silhouette soldiers pop up across the county.

There But Not There has seen a number of 6ft tall, aluminium 'Tommy' figures appear at locations nationwide this week, including in Penshurst.

And it was there where the campaign was first inspired, after 50 clear silhouettes were placed in pews at St. John the Baptist Church in the village back in 2016.

The silhouette which appeared in Penshurst. Photo: There But Not There.
The silhouette which appeared in Penshurst. Photo: There But Not There.

This latest installation aims to place a representative figure for as many names on local war memorials around the country as possible, into their place of worship, their school, their workplace or wherever their absence was keenly felt.

The transparent silhouettes, which stand with their head bowed, rifle in hand, and with a poppy on the chest, will be back within their communities by November and the centenary commemoration of the end of the war.

Other figures have been seen in at the Tower of London, on Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, at Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, South Wales and at Heart of Midlothian football club in Edinburgh.

The aim is to raise some £15 million for military and mental health groups by Armistice Day.

Silhouettes sat in the pews of Penshurst Church
Silhouettes sat in the pews of Penshurst Church

The campaign is being led by former British Army officer Lord Dannatt, who said: "The poppies at the Tower of London captured the start of the national WWI commemoration – There But Not There will be the abiding concluding image."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby added: "I do commend this creative and imaginative project very warmly. I hope that many churches will want to engage with this during this next year.

"As we commemorate the end of the First World War it is vital that we remember and this project allows us to do so in a way that will engage with the imagination and be a real exercise in remembrance."

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