Sculptor marks First World War centenary with work in Canary Wharf

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A Canary Wharf gallery today marked 100 years since the start of the Great War by unveiling a miniature bronze sculpture, while its creator passed the centenary milestone back in his workshop.

Nic Joly can be found amid a sea of metal, paint and files creating 1,566 commemorative pieces to represent the number of days the war was fought, for his Never Forgotten collection now showcased at Artisan Fine Art.

He hopes to raise more than £150,000 in partnership with the Royal British Legion by donating to charity £100 from the £695 price tag for each item.

The 41-year-old admitted the work had often seen him reduced to an "emotional wreck".

That's because every individually-dated piece, which take 24 hours to complete, incorporate a back story, something which has brought identity to his creations - and a tear to his eye.

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"It makes every piece as unique as everyone who died," said Nic, who often uses a workshop in Hatton Gardens.

"The whole process is about the little people who make up the big picture, they are all as important as everyone else.

"Putting experiences from a letter or something that happened on that day, like a letter from a father to son, puts you back in touch with the whole thing."

Never Forgotten uses a striking scarlet poppy and embraces the iconic Joe Rosenthal picture of US soldiers raising the flag on the island of Iwo Jima in the Second World War.

Nic said it was a chat with a 96-year-old veteran who flew a glider into the Arnhem conflict during the Second World War that "brought past history to life".

"It was an extraordinary story in itself but the whole thing that fascinated me was he had spoken to his father about the First World War and everything came into colour," he added.

"That was really the moment that changed things for me - with his father's experiences.

"That generation didn't really talk about much but the few words he had said about it were incredible.

"About the number of friends his father lost and the village his father came from where he said a whole generation was wiped out overnight.

"This is the centenary but it's still going on now, this is from then to the present day. It's the past, the present and never forgetting."

Go to Artisan Fine Art in Canada Place Mall or castlegalleries.com.