In the fall of 2020, the wreckage of a Short Stirling was recovered from Lake Markermeer in the Netherlands. This British bomber crashed during the Second World War. To honour the crew, the municipality of Almere wishes to create an artwork. In December 2019, the municipality called for artists to apply. The jury – consisting of Hilde van Garderen (alderman responsible for culture), Johan Graas (Aircraft Recovery Group), Heleen Visser (chairman Bos der Onverzettelijken), Dick de Jager (adviser archaeology, municipality of Almere), and students Anastasia, Mika and Ximon –decided in favour of Laura O’Neill’s artwork Rise. This artwork will be placed in the park Bos der Onverzettelijken in 2021.
O’Neills artwork consists of a part of the wreckage, on top of which a life-sized young man sits. His clothing marks him as a pilot from the Second World War. He looks at the flag pole that also stands on the field, and invites other generations to remember as well. O’Neill was struck by the young age of the crew members. With Rise, she wants to honour their sacrifice for our freedom.
The jury found O’Neill’s design impressive because she humanizes the crew. The artwork shows a man’s vulnerability; that it is not just a pilot, but a real person. A young man. The artwork emphasizes the personal aspect, according to the jury.
O’Neill (1990) is originally from England, and now works and lives in Almere (the Netherlands). She went to the University of Westminster and achieved her Masters degree Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, both located in London. Het work can be seen in the Netherlands as well as in other countries: for example at the new courthouse in Amsterdam, Fold Lab and Chalton Gallery in London, and Karen Huber in Mexico City.
As told in her motivation for Rise, the story of the Short Stirling reminded Laura of her grandfather. He fought for Britain during the Second World War. Laura considers it an honour to be able to create this artwork to commemorate the men who, like her grandfather, fought for freedom.