7 October 2020

On World Homeless Day, hard-hitting art piece asks us to remember homeless veterans.


David Tovey’s new work: Unknown Soldier

In 2019 it was reported that 16,000 ex-servicemen were homeless or in prison. Artist and Campaigner David Tovey used to be one of them. In a new landmark piece, you will journey through the life of the ‘Unknown Soldier’, a work that has been in the making for 29 years. In this powerful film and performance, Tovey draws you into a psychological space of made up of his own experiences of homelessness, attempted suicide and serving his country.

A powerful film provides a disorientating and stark backdrop to a performance blending ambient sound, spoken interview, historical archive footage and moving image to explore homelessness, alcoholism, addiction and the life of a homeless soldier. To accompany the film, David performs and narrates the journey of a soldier and his battle with mental health, PTSD and homelessness. The whole experience guides us through memories lost as David takes the ultimate decision to end his life. It is raw, uncompromising and brutal.

The wider issue – homeless veterans in the UK

 ‘Unknown Soldier’ highlights the struggles that people face when they leave the armed forces with a shocking lack of resettlement and mental health support. 

In the UK today, there are deep questions to be answered about how people who serve this country are treated. As society recently reflected on the centenary of the First World War with fields of poppies, grand exhibitions up and down the country, David invites you to consider the legacy of war and the situation ex-soldiers find themselves in now.

Tovey has chosen the name ‘Unknown Soldier’ to highlight how little people will ever know about what he and others have been through, whilst serving and after.  On average 70 veterans take their own lives every year in the UK, Many of those were homeless.

“Imagine leaving school at just turned 16, a young 16 at that, and within weeks you’re being taught to kill people! If that was normal they would be teaching us that in schools, but it’s not! I think that explains this show and how hard it has been to make this show. It has bought back memories good and bad that I’ve been hiding from myself for years - joy, surprise, pain, trauma and forgiveness… the list goes on.” David Tovey on making ‘Unknown Soldier’

Watch the performance live by clicking HERE