Sculptures Revealing The True Horrors Of War

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 45 months ago
Sculptures Revealing The True Horrors Of War ★★★☆☆ 3
A stitched up face of a Crimean war hussar after a musketball injury. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
A stitched up face of a Crimean war hussar after a musketball injury. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
Wounded soldier from WW1. The wearing of hospital blues often demotivated soldiers as it was the same uniform as psychiatric patients who were looked down upon. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
Wounded soldier from WW1. The wearing of hospital blues often demotivated soldiers as it was the same uniform as psychiatric patients who were looked down upon. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
Infantry captain from WW1. His nose has been torn away by shrapnel and so a new one has been made from rib bones and grafted on to his forehead to establish blood supply - it will then be swung down into place. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
Infantry captain from WW1. His nose has been torn away by shrapnel and so a new one has been made from rib bones and grafted on to his forehead to establish blood supply - it will then be swung down into place. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
RAF Flight Lieutenant from WW2. As pilots sat above fuel tanks, burn injuries were common. This airmen is having his nose rebuilt using tissue to reconstruct the nose. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
RAF Flight Lieutenant from WW2. As pilots sat above fuel tanks, burn injuries were common. This airmen is having his nose rebuilt using tissue to reconstruct the nose. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
The full band of brothers with their various battlefield injuries. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook
The full band of brothers with their various battlefield injuries. Image courtesy and copyright of Eleanor Crook

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

As 2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, there have been several exhibitions examining the legacy of the war including the re-opening of the Imperial War Museum and its First World War galleries, and the massively popular and moving poppies at the Tower of London.

One location where war is an ever-present feature is the Florence Nightingale museum within the St. Thomas' hospital complex. Most people won't know about the existence of this small museum but it does a terrific job of setting out Nightingale's upbringing, her time healing soldiers during the Crimean war, how she brought about greater professionalism and standards to nursing, and her legacy.

The museum's newest installation is by sculptor Eleanor Crook, who has recreated a literal band of brothers, complete with instruments, showcasing the injuries that have been sustained in warfare. The five individual models cover conflicts from the Crimea right through to modern day Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Crimean era hussar has had a musketball injury sewn up but it's only with the mechanised warfare of the First World War where some truly horrific injuries appear. These include a nose completely destroyed by shrapnel where folds of skin from the forehead or neck would have been used to reconstruct the damaged nose.

In later wars, the psychological advancement of medicine is evident as soldiers were kept active and allowed to wear their uniforms as this helped in speeding up their recovery and keeping patients active gave them a sense of continuing to contribute to the war effort.

There is a lot of detail and subtlety to this installation and it's great that the museum has decided to keep a curator on hand to talk visitors through it all. It's a powerful visualisation of how horrific war injuries can be and how medicine and surgery have advanced in their treatment of soldiers.

And the band played on ... is on display at Florence Nightingale Museum, 2 Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7EW until 22 December. Tickets for museum entry are £7.80 for adults, concessions available. There is also an accompanying blog charting visitor interactions with the exhibit.

For another exhibition on the horrors of war, visit the Hunterian Museum for their current exhibition on war surgery. And for more art in London, see our November listings.

Last Updated 18 November 2014