Newcastle NE1, the city’s Business Improvement District, has welcomed the Acting US Ambassador to the United Kingdom to the North East, to open a free public photography exhibition to mark the centenary of America’s involvement in the First World War.
Situated outside Newcastle Central Station until the end of July, the exhibition ‘Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-18’ is a unique portrait of the First World War battlefields by Michael St Maur Sheil, which tells of the healed scars of the First World War through our only remaining living witness, the fields of battle themselves.
This exhibition is comprised of contemporary photographs of the battlefields together with archive photographs, which act as a visual gateway to the fields where the conflict was fought, allowing visitors to see for themselves how the conflict changed the landscapes it touched, along with the course of human history.
Acting Ambassador Lewis Lukens officially opened the exhibit, which has attracted more than five million visitors so far on its tour of the world, and was in Turkey and France before arriving in the UK. Formerly the US Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Mr Lukens was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in London in 2014, and has served in his current role since the departure of the previous Ambassador in January 2017.
In addition to officially opening the exhibit, Mr Lukens also attended a reception at the Mansion House in Jesmond, Hosted by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle and attended by local dignitaries, including armed forces veterans and American expats. He also met local businesses at a breakfast event organised by NE1, as well as making a number of other visits in the region.
Mr Lukens said: “I am delighted that this exhibition will visit the great city of Newcastle. Today, the United States and United Kingdom – and millions of our service members – are providing the global leadership that cements our enduring partnership and makes our countries more secure. Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace…marks the sacrifices made by the men and women of America in World War One, which shaped our world in the 20th century.”
Newcastle NE1 Chief Executive Sean Bullick said: “It is an honour for Newcastle to play host to this exhibition, which I’m sure will be well received by the people of the city telling, as it does, the story of the First World War and America’s involvement.
“I’d like to personally thank Acting Ambassador Lukens for visiting Newcastle and meeting businesses here. NE1 works hard to forge global links for our members. They are increasingly important to the city’s economy in the post-Brexit world, and our reputation as an international city of trade, tourism and study has never been more important.
Louise Rutherford, Regional Customer Experience Manager for Virgin Trains on its east coast route, which manages Newcastle Central Station: “Along with our partners in the city, Virgin Trains was delighted to welcome Acting Ambassador Lukens to Newcastle to open this important exhibition. It is a very interesting and moving exhibition, and many of our customers who pass through Newcastle station are taking time out to look at these photographs and learn more about, and reflect upon, the sacrifices which others have made.”
Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cllr Linda Wright, said: “It’s a great honour to welcome the Acting Ambassador to Newcastle. The city has a long and proud association with the United States, and past visitors have included President Carter, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King.
“The photographic exhibition of the Doughboys at the Central Station reminds us all of the sacrifice American soldiers made during the First World War – something we will never forget.”