'Face of Liberation' community artwork project unveiled in Jersey

The huge scale photo mosaic covers over 1,000 square feet of wall space in St Helier and features 6,070 faces of Jersey residents from the past and present. Credit: Helen Marshall/The People's Picture

Jersey's largest piece of community artwork will be revealed to the public today.

"The Face of Liberation" is being unveiled to celebrate 75 years since the island was freed from Occupation. It was due to be shown in April but was delayed due to coronavirus.

The huge scale photo mosaic covers over 1,000 square feet of wall space on the Esplanade in St Helier and features 6,070 faces of Jersey residents past and present.

Islanders were asked to send selfies, or pictures of their friends, family and ancestors to form the mosaic. As well as inviting people to send their photos, ArtHouse Jersey also went out to events in the community to meet people and take their photographs. Every photo submitted will be preserved by Jersey Heritage. The artwork will be in place until September 2021.

The face on the mosaic is 92-year-old Barbara Joan Jouanny, who was 11 when the Occupation started. She lived with her nine siblings at First Tower, opposite the Bay View Hotel, which was where many of the German soldiers were stationed. Early in the Occupation Barbara's family tried to evacuate to England, but after waiting for hours for a boat at the harbour, they were forced to remain in the island.

She has recalled her standout moment of fright during that time.

On the day the Germans bombed St Helier there was also a series of machine gun fire that came from the waterfront behind our family home. I remember my father running into the garden and dragging all the children inside. It was horrible. When they re-emerged they saw bullet holes in the basket weaving workshop in front of our house. It had been a close shave.

Barbara Joan Jouanny

Barbara also made friends with a German officer who lived across the road. One Christmas Eve, he came to the family home and left 10 gifts for each of the children on the dining room table. Barbara says of the German soldiers “They were only people who didn’t want to be in war. I never came across any bad ones.” Due to current restrictions the official unveiling event is closed to the public. 21 guests have been invited to the event at 1pm at Cooil House which overlooks the installation. His Excellency, Lieutenant Governor Air Chief Marshal, Sir Stephen Dalton will be in attendance and the Bailiff of Jersey, Mr Timothy Le Cocq will give a speech on the project.

We are delighted and relieved to be able to deliver this phenomenal piece of art to the people of Jersey at this moment in time. Amid the ongoing uncertainty and lack of tangible, physical artistic offerings right now, we hope this wonderful piece of community art that so many thousands of Jersey people contributed to can offer a sense of community, solidarity and togetherness.

Tom Dingle, Director of ArtHouse Jersey