“Pages of the Sea” art project, by Danny Boyle, recognized with ADCE’s Creative Distinction Award 2019

Creativity, People

Film-maker Danny Boyle’s art project Pages of the Sea, commissioned by 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day, is awarded for its evocative message and its way of engaging both the local and the international community

The Art Directors Club of Europe (ADCE) spotlights creativity with a profound social and cultural impact yearly.

On 11 November, coinciding with Remembrance Day, the English film-maker Danny Boyle invited communities to join him in marking 100 years since Armistice and the end of the first World War. Across the UK and Ireland communities gathered on 32 beaches to say a collective thank you and goodbye to the millions who left their shores to serve in the war, and specially to those who never returned. Boyle’s personal homage to the first World War victims has received the ADCE Creative Distinction Award 2019, a special honor that recognizes yearly the most inspirational creative ideas with an outstanding societal impact.

Part of “14-18 NOW”, a series of commemorative art commissions to mark the centenary of the First World War, the piece invited communities to gather on the beaches and collectively draw huge size portraits of people who lost their lives during the conflict. Designed by sand artists Sand in Your Eye, these portraits became only graspable from the sky, and while they were slowly erased by the sea coming in, participants collectively read aloud the sonnet “The Wound in Time” by the poet Carol Ann Duffy.

The portraits chosen represent a range of interesting stories of ordinary people who gave their lives to the war effort covering a range of ranks and regiments, from doctors to munition workers, Privates to Lieutenants to Majors. Conveying the message by land, sea and air, “Pages of the Sea” created a moment of national reflection that engaged with local communities around the UK and Ireland while also creating international awareness.

Danny Boyle has directed award-winning films like Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Steve Jobs and the soon to be released YESTERDAY. On his particular choice of setting he said he had chosen beaches because they were “dramatic, unruly, democratic” places where “nobody rules but the tide”, but also places of hope. Thousands of people took part in community projects in the preceding weeks, discovering their local history, and each beach personalized their own event.

News of this nationwide gesture of remembrance traveled around the world, demonstrating how the UK paid tribute to the fallen one hundred years after Armistice Day. “We didn’t want to feature heroes but ordinary people, representing all genders and ages and with a connection to the beaches chosen” explained yesterday Boyle at the D&AD Festival where he picked up the award. “Art has to be at the center of every public commemoration”, considers Boyle. “We wanted people to come and to be there at the beach, but we also wanted the project to be open for people who could not come thorough the website”, he added.

The ADCE Creative Distinction award exists outside of the traditional ADCE Awards program, and it focuses on creativity that has a profound social and cultural purpose. It is decided upon by the ADCE board, comprised of representatives from each of the 22 member clubs from across Europe. Previous winners include 4Creative’s “Meet the Superhumans” campaign, Jean Jullien’s “Peace for Paris” design and Hasan & Partner’s “Teen Maternity Clothing” campaign.

14-18 NOW is a program of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations between 2014 and 2018. It commissioned new work by leading contemporary artists across all art forms; the program included over 420 artists from 40 countries, taking place in more than 220 locations across the UK. 35 million people experienced the program , including 8 million children and young people. 16.7 million people took part in LIGHTS OUT in 2014 commemorating the start of the war, and 63% of the UK adult population were aware of Jeremy Deller’s ‘We’re here because we’re here’ marking the Battle of the Somme. The UK tour of the poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper was been seen by over 4.5 million people. Peter Jackson’s film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ has been seen by nearly 4 million people so far in the UK and 48% of the UK adult population were aware of Danny Boyle’s Armistice event ‘Pages of the Sea’. 14-18 NOW has won many awards for its work, including the National Lottery Heritage Award.

14-18 NOW is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Big Lottery Fund, by the DCMS with additional funding from The Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Clore Duffield Foundation, NatWest and support from individuals.

The Art Directors Club of Europe (ADCE) is a non-profit association headquartered in Barcelona. It comprises 22 professional clubs and associations of graphic design and advertising from 21 European countries: Austria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Georgia, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Founded in 1990, the ADCE strives to foster excellence in graphic design and advertising creativity at a European scale. The association represents more than 5,000 professionals from the field and gives visibility to the best works accomplished locally. The current president is Ami Hasan, founder, chairman and creative director of hasan & partners.