About - Pages of the Sea


On 11 November 2018, tens of thousands gathered on beaches to say goodbye and thank you, to the millions of men and women who left their shores during the First World War, many never to return.

On beaches around the UK, over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War emerged from the sand. And then, as the tide rose, it was washed away as we took a moment to say a collective thank you and goodbye.


The Beaches


Poet Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem called The Wound in Time especially for Pages of the Sea, which was read by individuals, families, choirs and communities on the day. People also created their own artwork in the sand using stencils of nurses, soldiers and munitions workers.


Read the poem online Download the poem in English Download the poem in Welsh Download the poem in Gaelic


Thousands took part in community projects in the preceding weeks, discovering their local history, and each beach personalised their own event, with activities including singing, kite-flying, stone painting, candles and lanterns.

The event captured the nation’s imagination and news of this nationwide gesture of remembrance travelled around the world, demonstrating how the UK paid tribute to the fallen one hundred years after Armistice day.

Danny Boyle said: “It was incredibly moving to see so many people come together on our beautiful beaches to say a special thank you and goodbye to those who left their home shores during the First World War. As the tide washed the portraits away, we read Carol Ann Duffy’s poem and paid tribute to those who gave, and changed, their lives. United, but with our own personal thoughts about what the First World War means to us 100 years later.

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “Danny Boyle has devised a truly memorable project – directed and inspired by local communities all around our coastline. Pages of the Sea is a fitting tribute to the millions of men and women who lost their lives in the First World War. 14-18 NOW extends a huge thank you to Danny Boyle and to all our partners, volunteers and spectators who made this project such a success”.

You can also browse the images of some of those who left their shores in our gallery. See their faces and find out who they were. Those from your community, those who shared your name.


Explore the Gallery


Pages of the Sea was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary. It was delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust, Activate Performing Arts, Creative Foundation, Eden Project, National Theatre Scotland, Nerve Centre, Sunderland Culture & Taliesin in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre, The Grand Theatre of Lemmings, Magna Vitae, MOSTYN, SeaChange Arts, Swansea Council, Swansea University, Theatre Orchard, and Visit Blackpool who worked with their local communities to create the event on the 11th. Sand portraits designed by Sand in your Eye.

Supported by The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Big Lottery Fund, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.