A Major Art Installation of Ceramic Poppies Commemorating Each British And Colonial Casualty From WWI Opens Today
August 4th 2014 was the one hundred year anniversary of Britain and her Colonies’ declaration of war on Germany. Today, to mark the first full day of British involvement in the war, a moving tribute in the form of art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red opens at the Tower of London.
The project was conceived by ceramic artist Paul Cummins but he was assisted by numerous artists and volunteers to create the poppies. Stage designer Tom Piper is orchestrating the evolving installation, which runs until November 11th. 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat until Remembrance Day. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. The moat will be filled with a sea of red, providing a moving and effective tribute to those who lost their lives.
Children today no longer have relatives who fought in, or lived through WWI. They have lost that personal, first-hand connection to that time. They are living in a time when news of war fills the front pages of our newspapers every day, when war has become commonplace. But these wars are taking place far away and don’t involve their uncle, their neighbour, their teacher. WWI touched the lives of every person living in Britain or her colonies at the time. An installation like this can not help to have an impact on anyone who sees it. It is a place of memorial and reflection, but also a place of learning as it will spark an interest in something that, for children today, seems in the distant past.
The poppies also serve another purpose. They will be sold, for £25 each in order to raise money for six different service charities. Buy your poppy here. They can be shipped worldwide but will not be sent out until the installation is taken down in November. You can also make a dedication to a loved one with a minimum £10 donation here.
Watch a video of the making of the installation:
Also at the Tower, an exhibition in the Flint Tower displays the Tower of London’s role in WWI and explores the making of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation. Each day in the moat at sunset, names of 180 Commonwealth troops killed during the war will be read out as part of a Roll of Honour, followed by the Last Post. Members of the public can nominate a name for the Roll of Honour using a weekly ‘first come, first served’ nomination system to be read the following week in this nightly ceremony.