Posted! was created by the community of Ark School, JHQ, BFPO 40, working with artist-blacksmith, Melissa Cole. The primary school served a British military base, which closed in 2013. The birds represent the dispersal and regrouping of families which goes with the ‘postings’ of military life. JHQ (Rheindahlen) featured several British post boxes, despite being in Germany.
The British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) was stationed in the former West Germany after the second world war. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) there were more than 60 British schools spread across North-Rhine Westphalia and Lower Saxony serving the children of British Army and Royal Air Force personnel. During the 1990s the Royal Air Force moved back to UK from bases in Germany and BAOR was redesignated British Forces Germany (BFG). BFG has been steadily reducing as remaining military units are re-based in UK. In 2017, there are just six UK Ministry of Defence schools remaining, with these scheduled for closure by 2020.
Military postings meant that most families moved every two years or so, either within Germany or to the UK and other overseas locations. Children became used to (if not always happy about) leaving friends behind and starting afresh. The birds on our sculpture represent the dispersal and regrouping experience of posted families. The project involved the whole Ark School community in design, blacksmithing and metal-work. The birds were selected from hundreds, designed by children, school staff and family members.
Ark School was just one of the British (Ministry of Defence run) schools in Germany. Ark was a primary school, formed in 2010 from two adjacent schools opened in the 1950s. The amalgamation was in preparation for the final three years of ‘Joint Headquarters’ or JHQ. JHQ was purpose built as a military headquarters for the British and their allies in the 1950s, and located near Monchengladbach close to the German/Dutch border. At its height, the base included five schools, several nurseries, two churches, medical, shopping and sports facilities. The site was handed back to the German federal authorities in December 2013.
For more information on schools serving the British military community in Germany, visit http://www.bfes-scea-association.org/
More background and photographs of Posted!’s creation (album: ‘Artist in Residence’) can be found on ‘Ark JHQ’ Facebook page.
for more information, please contact Ark’s headteacher, Mike Chislett: