’16 Million’: Comments

N Wraxall WW1 Commemoration: ‘Very powerful’, ‘Very strong impact’, ‘the book with dots… my son said it was good and he is six’ ‘ Such a simple idea’ ‘It is a very visual way of getting to grips with such a huge number’ ‘You need to have a box of tissues next to it’ ‘Reminds me of the closing scene of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’.

(Displayed open in WW1 exhibition alongside emotive personal stories. Estimated 75-100 people)


Bath Library First World War Commemoration Exhibition: ‘It is very moving’, ‘people have liked it’, ‘it is a very effective way of getting the message across – you should be very proud’. Curator estimated 600+ people. Some people visibly moved (tears). (Displayed open in WW1 exhibition)


44AD Gallery, Bath: ‘That’s the sort of exhibit I like’, ‘Gosh, come and see this’ , ‘That’s about 14 thousand every day’ , ‘I don’t usually like conceptual art’, “ I think it is marvelous and very moving, where will it go to next?  “have you seen the poppies coming out of the window at The Tower of London?’ Curator said that everybody understood the concept without any trouble and it received a lot of good comment. (Displayed open, in the context of a gallery of contemporary art, not war-related context. Estimated 200 people)

Chippenham Library: ‘It led to a lot of discussion, especially amongst the staff’. Comment from librarian: ‘I think it would have been better if it had a short vignette about somebody on each page as well as the dots’. Answered by a colleague ‘but like that it is more poignant’, to which the first librarian said it put her in mind of ‘’Oh What A Lovely War’, when they pan away from a single cross and you can see them all stretching away into the distance’.

(Displayed on a table in the library with only the preface alongside. Not part of a WW1 context, and no other supporting title, etc. No estimate of people available)


Bradford on Avon Arts Festival (poetry event)

The book was not on display as in the other venues but held aloft in front of an audience of about 50, while a poem by Ray Fussell was read that the book had inspired.  Sustained applause (for the book, poem or both we don’t know), praise afterwards for both. And a free pint.

Swindon Central Library:

‘Good morning Martin

Nice to meet you yesterday.  We were very pleased to be able to display your 16 Million Book in Swindon Central Library for the past month and received a variety of comments about it .

First of all I would say that when displayed closed with its nicely bound cover people were surprised to find it was not a book with text and illustrations but pages of dots and this prompted them to read the accompanying information displayed alongside it.

Some people understood the concept behind it and were moved by this but others were not able to grasp it and thought perhaps that the dots were significant only when joined together to perhaps create a word or picture. One comment was perhaps the dots should be in “red in the same way as the poppy”.

It certainly provoked a lot of discussion and by doing so made people stop and think and consider the tragic consequences of war.

A number of young people and children were intrigued by it and  it created an opportunity for them to talk about the First World War.

We publicised it via our social media networks of Twitter and Facebook and I placed an article in the Swindon Borough Council new website and the link to this is here.


I wish you more success with your book and thanks once again for letting Swindon Libraries be a part of it.


Swindon Libraries & Information Service.’

Estimated 250 people studied it. Displayed closed on the reception desk, with additional covering info about ‘Artist Martin Elphick’ – ie as a piece of art, not as a memorial. (Maybe why some people ‘did not get it’ – expectations about ‘art’?).

Wedmore WW1 Exhibition

‘First of all, many thanks again Martin for lending us ‘The Book’ – as you requested I have been canvassing opinion and I have to say I received no negative feedback whatsoever. The people I spoke to were all very interested in the concept and positive about its message and comments included ‘awesome’, ‘deeply moving’, ‘mindblowing’ and, simply, ‘extremely sad’. Tessa Munt MP, who opened the museum, said that she thought the fact that each dot was exactly the same (in size and tone) illustrated perfectly the point that EVERYONE’S life has the same value be they a general, a private, a soldier or a civilian – eloquently put I thought. Many thanks again.’

Gallery 44AD ’25 Sculptures’ exhibition

Quiet interest – it was out of context in the setting of varied but more traditional sculptures. But some took a particular interest and wanted to discuss it with friends/family or with me. Display led to another request for exhibition at a meeting later in the year. (est. 300 people)

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute

Integrated with an evening of poetry from 1915, The Darkness and the Thunder and the Rain, organised by BANES council and Bath Poetry Cafe (the book displayed in the hall, and the associated poem performed). Many compliments for the idea and its effectiveness, and the simple ‘beauty’ of the book itself. ‘My grandfather is one of those dots. I love that he has a memorial among the others’.(est. 100 people)

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