Bronze, steel and copper, WW1 Artillery projectile sculpture by Matt Gauldie, 2009
In November 2004, I travelled to France and Belgium, with a contingent of New Zealanders to retrieve the remains of the Unknown Warrior from the Somme WW1 battlefields. My task was to paint a series of paintings to commemorate this historic national event.
While the honour guard rehearsed for the official handover ceremony near the town of Longueval, I walked along the 90 year old trenches, now used as narrow farm roads weaving across the Somme. Amongst the bullets, rusted barbed wire and ordnance that lined the way, I found this hollow projectile.
As I stood there in the sunken trench I thought about bringing the rusty projectile home and mounting on top a bronze soldier writing his last letter home before rushing 'over the top'.
My great grandfather fought on the Somme with a Yorkshire artillery regiment. He would have fired rolling barrages over the Kiwis as they rushed across no mans land, and may well have fired this projectile.