By Alejandro de la Garza
Updated: November 11, 2018 8:55 PM ET

Artists created 32 enormous sand portraits on beaches all over the United Kingdom to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the World War I on Sunday.

The portraits, depicting casualties of the war, were created as part of a remembrance project organized by filmmaker Danny Boyle, in partnership with 14-18 NOW, a UK artistic program that commissions artwork to commemorate the centenary of World War I. The project, called Pages of the Sea, worked with arts groups all over the UK to create portraits on the same day, on beaches in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Members of the public gather on Swansea Bay Beach, Wales, for filmmaker Danny Boyle's Pages of the Sea, commissioned by 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day on November 11, 2018 in Swansea, Wales.
Matthew Horwood—Getty Images for 14-18 NOW

In a video explaining the project, Boyle said that the portraits were meant to be a “partner” to the more formal ceremonies happening at monuments and cemeteries around the UK. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy also wrote a poem for the project. Participants were invited to read it aloud during the occasion.

According to the Pages of the Sea website, Boyle chose whom to portray in order to capture the range of ordinary people who “gave their lives to the war effort.”

“The portraits feature a range of soldiers of different ranks and regiments, Privates to Lieutenants and Majors, as well as doctors and nurses,” the website reads. “Many are from the areas or communities their portrait will be featured in, others are from towns and cities elsewhere, or from international communities. These individuals are a just small selection of the millions who gave their lives to the war.”

The portraits featured individuals like poet-soldier Wilfred Owen, whose face was etched in sand in Folkestone, Kent, and Second Lieutenant Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army. His portrait appeared on Ayr Beach in Scotland.

Piper Andy McGregor plays a lament as members of the public gather on Downhill beach, for filmmaker Danny Boyle Pages of the Sea, commissioned by 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day on November 11, 2018 in Downhill, Northern Ireland.
Charles McQuillan—Getty Images for 14-18 NOW

“As the tide returns… it will wash away this face for the last time really,” Boyle explained in the video. “It would be a final goodbye, a final salute to those who gave their lives.”

Imperial Military Nurse Rachel Ferguson’s face was rendered on a beach in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. She died in Bordighera, Italy in 1918. Like the others, her portrait was washed away by the tide within a couple of hours.

People on Porthcurno beach watch as waves wash away a large scale sand portrait of Lieutenant Richard Charles Graves-Sawle, one of a number from the project called Pages of the Sea near Penzance on November 11, 2018 in Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Matt Cardy—Getty Images

“Our beaches are unruly, and they’re ours,” Boyle explained. “They’re a great democratic space, so this seems like a fitting and wonderful place to salute [those who died] and to say goodbye.”

Watch footage of one of the beach portraits here:

Write to Alejandro de la Garza at alejandro.delagarza@time.com.

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