University of St Andrews: £2.5m art commissioning programme will help University project reach out to Fife communities

A unique University of St Andrews project focusing on the impact and legacy of war on ordinary citizens has been selected to be part of the prestigious IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, a national programme of 22 artist commissions inspired by the heritage of conflict created in partnership with Imperial War Museums (IWM) and 14-18 NOW, the official UK arts programme for the First World War centenary.

‘Visualising War’, an interdisciplinary research project with its own podcast, has been awarded £20,000 of funding which will allow it to tackle a question as relevant now as it has ever been: ‘How can we understand the rupture, loss and long-standing struggles experienced by people displaced from their homes through war?’

The funding will help ensure the project’s reach is extended across Fife, with exhibitions featuring newly commissioned artwork on the theme of forced displacement planned to take place in Kirkcaldy and St Andrews next year.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Alice König, senior lecturer in the School of Classics and Director of ‘Visualising War’, explained the project is looking specifically at the impact of forced migration on ordinary people.

Dr König, who also hosts the project’s podcast, said: “We are looking forward to working with artist Diana Forster, who is creating a series of storytelling panels that will walk us through her mother’s experiences as a child, when she was forcibly displaced from Poland to Soviet Russia during WWII.

“This funding will also enable us to learn from people who have first-hand experience of forced migration in the 21st century, and we hope that our exhibitions will kick-start lots of conversations not just about forced migration but about the many different ripple effects of conflict on individuals and communities.”



Diane Lees, Director-General of IWM, said: “IWM is delighted to be working in close partnership with such a breadth of UK organisations on this ambitious programme of art commissioning. After a challenging couple of years for the arts sector, we hope that the unprecedented opportunities enabled by the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund will kick-start cultural dialogue as we recover from the wide-reaching impacts of Covid-19.”


The IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund is a national programme of 22 artist commissions inspired by the heritage of conflict and created in partnership with Imperial War Museums (IWM) and 14-18 NOW, the official UK arts programme for the First World War centenary. To mark the end of the First World War centenary, Imperial War Museums and 14-18 NOW worked together to co-commission the critically acclaimed film They Shall Not Grow Old by Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson, which was seen by nearly five million people globally. Following the unprecedented success of the film, 14-18 NOW and IWM agreed that a share of the film’s royalties would be used to support a new programme of artist commissions, the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund. A total of £2.5 million is being made available to artists and cultural organisations across the UK.

Through the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund, IWM is now working in partnership with 20 cultural organisations from across the UK to commission 22 ambitious new artworks inspired by the heritage of conflict and created by world-leading and emerging contemporary artists.

These new commissions will forge new opportunities for artistic engagement, bring art to audiences in new and relevant ways by connecting people, places and experiences, and kick-start cultural dialogue as we recover from the wide-reaching impacts of Covid-19. The commissions will go on public display across the UK between 2022 and 2024.

Five major partners have been appointed by IWM as co-commissioners, each to receive £250,000: The Hunterian in Glasgow; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead; Ulster University in Derry-Londonderry; and Leicester Museums. Working with five world-leading artists, these joint commissions will be displayed between 2023 and 2024 and explore themes ranging from care work in conflict to the current refugee crisis.

Two additional commissions at IWM sites will each receive £250,000 and extend IWM’s rich art offer. Details of the commissions will be announced later this year.

Alongside the five major partners and two IWM commissions, 15 member organisations from IWM’s War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network will receive smaller grants of £20,000. Comprising universities, galleries, local authorities and social enterprises, eight have now been selected including ‘Visualising War’ at the University of St Andrews. Working alongside both established and emerging artists, their commissions will explore conflict from the First World War to the present day.

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