Great & Tiny War is conceived and made by acclaimed female artist Bobby Baker. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW as part of its finale programme and co-produced by Daily Life Ltd with Wunderbar, it will occupy a terraced house in the West End of Newcastle from 7 September – 9 November 2018.
Since 2014, 100 years since WW1 began, Bobby Baker has been reimagining what day-to-day life is like in wartime. In this new work she invites us on a tour of a transformed house – an ingenious, immersive multimedia installation inspired by real stories, passed down through her family and shaped by the domestic and emotional labour of conflicts.
Great & Tiny War celebrates the women who carry on running houses, bringing up children, and keeping families together at the most harrowing of times. The installation serves as a monument to their unacknowledged private struggles and personal strength, and will resonate with anyone whose family has been touched by conflict.
Baker says: “The domestic work that women do – caring for homes, children, families – during wartime, is never valued and yet it is what sustains life. My work celebrates this overlooked part of everyday life, and the strength of women and families in sustaining those traumatised by war.”
Guests will meet with an uncommon experience as the house contents juxtapose the spectacular with the everyday – a ghostly heroine, a baked armoury, 4,701 reinvented dinners – and other happenings of unpredictable proportions.
Baker’s astonishing installation shines a light on the role of women during wartime and the impact of conflicts, historical and contemporary, on the mental health of whole families through the generations.
“My grandfather, the son of the Vicar of Byker and a brilliant mathematician, was a ballistics engineer at Armstrong Whitworth. His experience of designing arms that killed his contemporaries led to a post-war breakdown. This narrative, that filters through to my own family, and my own experience, underpins the work, alongside the stories of my female relatives during WW1.
“Everybody’s family’s got a war in it, so I hope that Great & Tiny War will resonate with everyone who visits.”
Great & Tiny War pivots around a feministic perspective on war – the domestic role that women played during the First World War was vital and the stuff of life. Without it, we couldn’t continue to function and yet those stories are rarely represented by historic reflections on the War – traditional imagery is focused around soldiers, politicians and women working in factories.
The artwork questions the definition of labour – what is paid for, what has status, why domestic work is not seen as having any economic value, why caring and bringing up children is not seen as skilled employment.
Great & Tiny War explores and draws attention to the lasting impact of war through the generations. The effects on our mental health are far reaching and can be passed on to our children and our children’s children. This applies to all wars, not just the First World War.
The house tour will contain some spectacular surprises, exquisitely handcrafted artworks, fascinating family histories, warmth and wit.
Ilana Mitchell, Artistic Director of Wunderbar said: “Bobby’s installation is a proper coup for the north east. This is a major work by a brilliant artist and plays a big role in 14-18 NOW’s epic finale programme. Wunderbar will be doing everything it can to ensure this important work can be experienced by as many people as possible.”