Imperial War Museums (IWM) North will commence a summer of art with the launch of a major outdoor sculpture by acclaimed British sculptor Tim Shaw. On display for the first time, Man on Fire will be revealed on July 7 and, later this summer, several artworks from IWM’s collection will be newly displayed at IWM North.
Monumental in scale, Man on Fire captures the dreadful moments of a person on fire, caught between life and death. Primarily based on images of the 2005 Basra riots during the Iraq War, it was also inspired by photographs of the 2007 Glasgow airport attack and by Shaw’s own memories of growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Tim Shaw said: “Although this work was originally shaped by photographs of a soldier diving for his life from a burning armoured vehicle, Man on Fire bears witness to the universal horror of war. War is time old, and conflict does not discriminate between gender, age or country. Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine testifies to the fact that we continually repeat the same tragic mistakes.”
Man on Fire continues Tim Shaw’s career-long engagement with themes of conflict. Recently cast in bronze and measuring just under five metres high, this newly realised and visually striking sculpture will go on permanent display at IWM North this July, where it will provide an outdoor focal point for IWM’s visitors. Additionally, from July 14 a new selection of artworks from the museum‘s collections will refresh spaces inside the museum, bringing diverse perspectives to conflicts from the Cold War to the ‘War on Terror’.
IWM commissioned artworks include Sonia Lawson’s painting, Camouflaged Men in a Trench (1984), a striking depiction of soldiers during Operation Lionheart, the British Army’s Cold War exercise in West Germany – to this day the largest of its kind since the Second World War. More watercolours from Paul Hogarth’s Berlin Wall commission (1981) will also be displayed, revealing both sinister and absurd aspects of the militarised city as a focal point of Cold War divisions.
Two posters from artist Michael Peel’s Modern World series – last shown in streets across the UK in the mid-1980s – evoke Cold War era tensions and anxieties about power, politics, war and the media. Finally, Fabian Knecht’s film VERACHTUNG (2014) will go on display, showing the artist walking the streets of New York, while covered in dust from a suicide bombing in Iraq. The work is a moving meditation on the repercussions of 9/11 and the global ‘War on Terror’.
The new sculpture Man on Fire will go on display outside IWM North from July 7. Find out more here.