These tiny sweaters were knitted by volunteers and donated during the Fashionality exhibition, for Michèle Karch-Ackerman's The Sweaters, which is part is part of a nationally-touring installation ongoing since 2003, entitled The Lost Boys. It explores the loss of young lives during the First World War and in particular, the Newfoundland regiment who fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel. It weaves together the story of James Barrie's Peter Pan with the stories of so many lives lost in the First World War, and expresses loss, remembrance and consolation.
The artist's intention is to knit or collect from volunteers 801 sweaters for each soldier from the Newfoundland regiment who fought in the battle of Beaumont Hamel. So far the project consists of approximately four hundred miniature hand-made and -dyed woollen sweaters knitted by the artist and an "army" of volunteers at knitting bees across Canada. The artist dyes the sweaters and hangs them on twig armatures for exhibition. Each volunteer adds a personal touch to the pattern, and each sweater takes on a life of its own. Sometimes special details are added (like a tiny toque, or a tag), and inside some of the sweaters, knitters sometimes hide devotional letters.
If you would like to contribute a sweater to the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the pattern and instructions. Feel free to add a devotional letter to the soldiers, which you can tuck inside the sweater, where it will remain. Sweaters will be accepted until September 1, 2012. At right is one included by a recent contributor.
About the Battle of Beaumont Hamel
Beaumont-Hamel is a commune in the Somme department in Picardy in northern France. During the First World War, Beaumont-Hamel was very close to the front lines and saw heavy combat, especially during the Battle of the Somme which was the largest Allied offensive of the entire war. July 1, 1916 was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, and was a slaughter for the Allies. Total Allied casualties on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme were 57,470, of which 19,240 were fatal.
The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was one of the four battalions of the British 29th Division's 88th Brigade, and was virtually annihilated at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. 733 of 801 men in the 1st Newfoundland Regiment were killed or wounded. In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is Memorial Day to commemorate Newfoundland's heavy losses in the battle.