Signs of Soldiers

The Souterraine Impressions exhibition features soldiers’ trench carvings from Vimy.

Written by Katie Dahl

August 13, 2015

A new exhibition is uncovering engravings soldiers left down in the dirt during the First World War.

Launched on April 9, 2015, Souterraine Impressions features more than 250 carvings soldiers dug into caves and tunnels while waiting to join the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 — a battle that has become a symbol of national unity, sacrifice, and achievement.

From signatures the size of credit cards to detailed drawings of badges and loved ones, visitors will get a rare glimpse at images that have been concealed for the past 98 years.

In 2009, the idea for this exhibition struck Zenon Andrusyszyn, the founder of the Canadian Historical Documentation and Imaging Group (CANADIGM), a group of creatives, historians, educators, and technicians.

He was inspired by a television show about the tunnels and caves near Vimy Ridge in France. The show featured the carvings and, Andrusyszyn — a visual artist and world war enthusiast — want to preserve and display them.

In June 2012, Andrusyszyn and his team scanned the carvings one-by-one. The images were then reproduced with a 3D printer.

Souterraine Impressions exhibition completed its cross-Canada tour between 2015 and 2018.

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