Battlefield mud exhibition features war heroine Nellie

Artist Dan Metcalfe with exhibition and (inset) Nellie Spindler.
Artist Dan Metcalfe with exhibition and (inset) Nellie Spindler.

Wakefield’s War heroine, Nellie Spindler is featured as part of a poignant art exhibition at a North Yorkshire cathedral using soil from the battlefields of Europe.

Fields of Mud, Seeds of Hope is a sculptural piece to commemorate those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War One as we approach the 100-year anniversary of the end of the conflict.

On display in Ripon Cathedral, it is made using wet soil taken from Flanders in Belgium, which saw some of the most fierce and bloodiest fighting of the war.

Gradually, as the soil dries out, cracks will begin to appear revealing five battle-weary silhouettes of those from the frontline, including Nellie.

The 26-year-old nurse, who grew up on Stanley Road, volunteered for war duty and died after a German shell hit the casualty clearing station where she was working in August 1917.

She is buried in a military cemetery in Belgium alongside 10,000 men.

Artist Dan Metcalfe explained: ““We felt it was important to have Nellie as one of our silhouettes as she is a visual reminder that sacrifices were made not only by the serving soldier but also by countless others.

“Those in non-combat roles are generally less visible in our acts of remembrance but often went through many of the same hardships and those who returned home would carry the legacy of the conflict with them for many years.

“Nellie is the only silhouette who is looking back to the past as she never returned home.”

The exhibition has been on display since October 3 and will remain until November 14.