Great & Tiny War, Newcastle
Bobby Baker installation, produced by Daily Life Ltd. in partnership with Wunderbar
7 September – 28 November 2018
Sidney Grove, Newcastle
Commissioned by 14-18 NOW – the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary – Great & Tiny War was an immersive art installation that occupied an entire terraced house in the West End of Newcastle. Visitors were led around the house by a host, whilst listening to an audio guide by Bobby Baker. As they toured the house, they encountered artwork inspired by real stories of day to day life in wartime, passed down through Baker’s family and shaped by the domestic and emotional labour of conflicts.
Individual artworks include Ordinary Heaven and Grossly Undervalued Domestic Products. Ordinary Heaven is a series of 14 biscuit tins painted with acrylic and gold leaf and displaying images highlighting the importance of everyday life and human connection. Grossly Undervalued Domestic Productsis a sculpture by Baker and her son, the designer and sculptor Charlie Whittuck. It contains 4,701 small peppermint cream sculptures of popular wartime foods (bread loaves, pan haggerty, blancmange, porridge). These represent the number of meals prepared, generally by one woman, in an average household able to afford three meals a day, during the 1,567 days of the First World War.
Great & Tiny War highlighted the largely unseen and unacknowledged role of women during wartime and the impact of conflicts – historical and contemporary – on the mental health of whole families through the generations.
In doing so, the work celebrated the women who carry on running houses, bringing up children, and keeping families together, even at the most harrowing of times. Great & Tiny Warserves as a monument to their unacknowledged private struggles and personal strength.
An extensive programme of workshops took place prior to the exhibition for local and regional groups that support women, some of whom have experience of war and trauma. The groups included The Angelou Centre, The Nunsmoor Centre, West End Women’s and Girls Centre, the Arabic Women’s Group, Forward Assist and Salute Her. The conversations with and reflections of these women, as well as some of their work (‘Baked Weapons’ created for the Domestic Armoury) were instrumental in the development of Great & Tiny War.
Great & Tiny Warwon Best Event Tyneside at the Journal Culture Awards in 2019.
Artist and Artistic Director: Bobby Baker
Associate Artist: Charlie Whittuck
Artistic Director, Wunderbar: Ilana Mitchell
Production Designer: Miranda Melville
Technical Director: Steve Wald
Audio Producer, Cast Iron Radio: Kate Bland
Audio Producer, Cast Iron Radio: Chris O’Shaughnessy
Filmmaker, Room 1: Johnny McGowan
Photographer Room 4: Janina Sabaliauskaite
Studio Assistant: Elle Clark
Studio Assistant: Michelle Lung
Full list of credits available in the book, which can be downloaded here.