Crossing the Field: WWI, Football & the Christmas Truce

8 November 2014 to 10 January 2015 Main Gallery

Mark Anstee, Gabi Cowburn, Bruno Van Dijck, Paul Hodgson, Thomas Lohmann, Eric Monbel, Marc Palmer, Jurgen Vantomme, Robin Vermeersch  


During 2014, there was a focus all over Great Britain and Europe on commemorating the anniversary, 100 years ago, of the beginning of the First World War. Many books, exhibitions, theatrical spectacles, military remembrances and films focused on the historical battles and atrocities of war. The staggering amount of activity illustrates that the First World War is still very alive in our collective memory.

As in every war, there are significant events and stories that continue to inspire over time. The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of them. The truce was a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires at the Western Front during Christmas 1914. Throughout the week leading up to Christmas Day, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between the trenches. Some individuals even walked across the field to talk to the ‘enemy’ bearing gifts, and incredibly, football games were organised. The truce represents a moment in history when men spontaneously made a connection, through football, with others sharing in the horror of the trenches, to enjoy a moment of peace and fraternity.

Crossing the Field recounted this unique event through contemporary art. Using painting, photography, installation, ceramics, drawing and film, by artists from Belgium, Germany, France and the UK, the exhibition crossed boundaries, nationalities and opinions. The show gave an unconventional perception of the First World War by examining football’s power to transcend the bleakest scenes and the most difficult circumstances to bring people together.

Football matches are often compared to battles. In the current world climate of war-torn continents, the games played during the First World War represent a triumphant, joyful moment of humanity and hope.

This exhibition has been co-curated by De Queeste Art, Belgium and Pitzhanger Manor Gallery. 

Image: Jurgen Vantomme, Chatelineau, 2014 © Jurgen Vantomme